Karnataka will go to the polls on Thursday in a single phase with the battlelines clearly delineated for a bipolar contest between the ruling Congress and BJP in all but six of the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies.
Both principal players see tidings in their favour.After a heartbreak defeat in the May Assembly polls last year, BJP is gung ho about a comeback, while the Congress is portraying a picture of confidence of bagging 20 seats.
Some 85,000 security personnel, including the central forces, will provide security cover across the state with 54,294 polling booths, 8,658 of which are identified as hyper sensitive and 14,400 as sensitive.
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In the 2009 polls, BJP then holding the reins of power had pulled off a stellar performance winning 19 seats, leaving six to Congress and three to JDS led by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda.
It is a reversal of this trend Congress is targeting to maximise gains, when a total of 4.62 crore voters are expected to make their choice from among 435 candidates.
Congress is hoping to replicate its Assembly performance when it swept to power winning 122 of the 224 seats, dethroning the first-ever BJP government in the South. Pushed to the third place, BJP is looking for a turnaround in its fortunes.
The fight between Congress and BJP is direct in at least 22 constituencies with many imponderables and triangular in the rest where the JDS is in the reckoning.
Among the battles, the most keenly watched is Bangalore South constituency where Nandan Nilekani, face of UPA’s marquee programme Aadhar and billionaire co-founder of Infosys is fighting BJP’s formidable opponent Ananth Kumar, a five-time MP.
Nilekani with his and wife’s declared wealth of Rs 7,700 crore is the richest among the candidates who have entered the fray so far in the country.
Politically highly conscious, middle and lower middle class dominated Bangalore South has never been receptive to Congress since the late 1970s, barring once in 1989.