Karnataka Assembly polls: Why exit polls raise more questions than answers

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On 15 May, the election results will finally show just what did really matter to the people who queued up outside polling booths on Saturday to elect their MLAs.

Both the BJP and the Congress ran a high-decibel campaign in the state with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the saffron charge with 21 rallies while Rahul Gandhi and chief minister Siddaramaiah led their bid to ensure that the Congress defies anti-incumbency to retain power.

Of the 224 seats up for grabs (113 seats needed for simple majority), exit polls on average predict 89 seats for the INC, 101 for BJP and 30 for the regional party Janata Dal (Secular) (JD (S)). While Times Now-VMR predicted a Congress win on anywhere between 90 and 103 seats, India Today-Axis My India was more optimistic and predicted between 106 and 118 seats for the party.

Meanwhile, the exit polls were divided over the party emerging as the single largest party in Karnataka.

The BJP and the Congress leaders are in touch with the JD (S) leadership, and have proposed power-sharing scenarios that could be acceptable to party leader and former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy.

While one may say that they are only doing their duty, a majority of the staff is made up of low- to middle-rung government officials who travel to unfamiliar places, get minimal facilities and do a hard job under trying circumstances. In Bengaluru's Raja Rajeshwari Nagar constituency, polling has been postponed to 28 May following the voter ID card case and countermanded in the city's Jayanagar seat following the death of BJP candidate B.N. Vijaya Kumar.

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As per the NewsX-CNX exit poll survey, the Congress may get a total of 33.75%, BJP can get 36.09%, JDS may get around 18.25%, while others may get somewhere around 11.91% votes. There is no need to have connection with any other political party, " he told reporters at his posh Dollars Colony residence here.

Only one exit poll yesterday predicted an outright victory for the BJP.

As for the other exit polls, three of them favour the Congress and five others favour the BJP-with none of them giving either party a simple majority. The prospective Chief Minister of the BJP also indicated that exit polls that predicted a hung assembly in the state got it wrong.

In 2013, Karnataka registered a 71.3 per cent voter turnout, highest for the previous 35 years and a good increase compared to 64.8 per cent turnout in the 2008 assembly polls.

There were reports of malfunctioning of EVMs from some polling stations, and minor clashes between Congress and BJP supporters.