Karnataka votes today; polling in 'fake' ID scam-hit constituency deferred

BJP chief Amit Shah (right) paid a visit to Tirupati Balaji temple on Friday | Photo: PTI
As Karnataka prepared for polling on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Nepal visiting the Janaki temple in Janakpur, considered the birthplace of Sita, while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah paid a visit to the famous Tirupati Balaji temple in Andhra Pradesh.

The Election Commission deferred polling to the Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency. ‘Fake’ electoral identity cards had been discovered on Tuesday, and the BJP and Congress had accused each other of electoral malpractices. Elections in Karnataka will now be held for 222 of the 224-seat Assembly. Polling had earlier been countermanded in Jayanagar following the death of the sitting BJP legislator. The state has 49.6 million voters and 55,600 polling booths. The counting of votes is on Tuesday.

Enforcement agencies continued to seize large amounts of cash and alcohol in raids on the election eve. The Congress asked the Election Commission that BJP candidate B Sriramulu be disqualified from contesting the election over a 2010 'sting' video allegedly showing him trying to the bribe a relative of a former chief justice of India.

No party has won a successive term since the Ramakrishna Hegde-led Janata Party in 1985. Karnataka is the only big state apart from Punjab that the Congress now rules. Shah has said the  BJP will win 130 seats, having revised it from his party’s earlier objective of winning 150 seats.

However, political parties have also started looking beyond the Karnataka polls to the by-elections to four Lok Sabha and 10 Assembly seats across 10 states on May 28. By-elections are to be held for two Lok Sabha seats of Maharashtra, and one each of Nagaland and Uttar Pradesh.

By-elections are also to be held for two seats in Jharkhand, and one each in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab, Meghalaya and Bihar. UP politics continued to throw surprises with BJP Lok Sabha member from Bahraich, Savitri Bai Phule, saying Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was a mahapurush (great person) as he had contributed to the freedom struggle.

Phule alleged that the Jinnah controversy was being raked up to divert attention from the real issues such as ensuring equal rights for dalits. Phule has been critical of her party for its failure to address dalit issues.

The Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal and Congress have come together for the Lok Sabha election in Kairana. 

In Tirupati, Telugu Desam Party workers staged a demonstration against Shah as he was proceeding to Renigunta airport from Tirumala hills and in the melee a stone was allegedly hurled at one of the vehicles in his convoy. The workers demanded that the Centre accord special category status to Andhra Pradesh.