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Campaigning in poll-bound Karnataka ends

New Delhi (India), May 10 : Fever pitch campaigning in Karnataka for assembly elections to be held on Saturday (May 12) came to an end on Thursday evening.

The campaigning by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) was electric in content and delivery, ranging from mud-slinging of rival opponents to religion.

The run-up to the elections saw top ministers and leaders from every party, attempting to woo voters across the state with their signature campaigning styles.

Till the very last minute, the BJP consistently sought to expose the Congress for allegedly resorting to foul means to win the elections.

On Thursday, hours before the curtains came down on campaigning, key leaders, Rahul Gandhi. Piyush Goyal and Amit Shah addressed separate press conferences during which they highlighted key aspects and focus areas of each party's campaign that lasted close to two months. The BJP believes that a win in Karnataka will be its gateway to dominating politics in the South. The Congress is of the view that a win in Karnataka will give it the clout in requires to challenge the BJP in the 2019 general elections, while the Janata Dal (Secular) is essaying the kingmaker's role in anticipation of a possible split verdict.

Campaigning in Karnataka is taking place for 224 assembly seats. A total of 2,655 candidates are in the fray and 4.96 lakh people, including 2.52 crore men and 2.44 crore women will take part in the election on May 15. Over 15 lakh people are first-time voters in the 18-19 age group.

The surfacing of a huge number of fake voter identity cards from an apartment in Bengaluru's Jalahalli area and the Election Commission stepping in to investigate it has dominated the media space over the last 48 hours.

Both the Congress and the BJP continue to indulge in charges and counter-charges.

Talking to ANI, Union Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation, and former state chief minister Sadanand Gowda alleged that the Congress candidate from Rajarajeshwari Nagara, Munirathna Naidu, was behind the fake ID cards row.

"MLA Munirathna Naidu runs democracy at his will. We will not allow Congress Goonda raj. 20000 Voter ids are in control of the Congress candidate at a private place along with laptops and printers. I personally saw how the Congress cheats democracy. We demand a total investigation to this," he said.
Addressing a rally in Karnataka's Tumkuru district, BJP President Amit Shah said that the

Siddaramaiah-led Congress has already accepted defeat and now has to rely on wrong measures to win the election. Addressing a press conference at the end of the BJP's campaign, Shah predicted that the BJP will win over 130 seats.

He said that law and order in Karnataka was in an abysmal state, and added that 24 BJP and RSS workers were killed in Karnataka and that the Congress government made no efforts to nab the culprits.

He maintained that the Congress is attempting to win the state polls by hook or crook. He said that even if the BJP loses the elections, it would never seek to form an alliance with the SDPI and the PFI.
Retorting to the allegations made by the BJP, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said, "Congress is constantly under surveillance of BJP government. This is the 12th time I am fighting elections but for the first time, these raids are being conducted at the time of elections. They are misusing government machinery."

"It is the Election Commission's job to investigate. I don't have to say anything about it," he added.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, one of BJP's star campaigners, called out the Siddaramaiah Government for celebrating 'Tipu Jayanti' while objecting to the installation of a statue of Chattrapati Sivaji Maharaj in the state.

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister also used his signature style to woo the majority Hindu population of the state when he asked the voters to vote for Lord Ram and Lord Hanuman to lay the foundation of what he called 'Ram Rajya' in the state. He said Lord Ram belong from Uttar Pradesh and his trusted aide Lord Hanuman belong from Karnataka, hence, people should vote for 'Ram Rajya' in the state.

Apart from blame games and mud-slinging, the party manifestoes tried their best to woo traditional voter banks. However, Siddaramaiah stole the BJP's thunder to an extent when he accepted the proposal to give special religious status to Lingayats - a traditional voter base of the BJP.

The BJP constantly brought out the issue of farmer suicides in the state and assured the voters that the Yeddyurappa-led BJP Government, if voted to power, will waive off farmer loans up to Rs 1 lakh for each farmer. He even said that with a fund of 1.5 Lakh crore every field in Karnataka will be watered.
He even said that the Modi Government had initiated 116 schemes for the minorities in the state, but the Siddaramaiah Government did not let them reach the people of Karnataka.

However, Congress President Rahul Gandhi refuted all claims of the BJP of being concerned about the minorities, he said, "While Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay his tribute to BR Ambedkar, he stays quiet when people from SC and ST communities are attacked. People will throw out Narendra Modi and the BJP from Karnataka first, followed by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh."

Former Prime Minister and JD(S) Supremo Deve Gowda, in coalition with BSP in the state, is also a faction that can't be ignored. In case of a hung assembly in the state, the JD(S) will be the deciding factor for the fate of BJP and Congress. The JD(S) also has the support of the electorally influential Vokkaligas in the state, a group eyed by both the BJP and the Congress.
All eyes now shift to May 12 and May 15.

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