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Exit Polls in Karnataka Give Edge to BJP but Indicate Hung Assembly

A policeman stands guard as people wait in a queue to cast their votes outside a polling station during Karnataka assembly elections at a village on the outskirts of Bengaluru

It stood out starkly more than ever before.

The Congress party had a comfortable majority in the outgoing assembly with 122 seats, 10 more than the halfway mark.

An elderly voter in Dharwad.

The opposition Congress party, which until Saturday's election controlled the state, is in second place.

A day after voting concluded in Karnataka, BJP chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa said he was confident that his party would secure enough seats to form the government on its own. It would also ensure that the party would not be reduced to ruling only one big state, that of Punjab, in the entire country. DK Shivkumar, the Vokkaliga leader of the Congress, might be the other contender.

While Yeddyurappa laid low, he has been confident of forming the next government. The Congress strategist supported Siddaramaiah's political gamble of recognising the Lingayat community as a religious minority, which the BJP has said could backfire. From handling the inter-state Cauvery crisis to opening Indira canteen for the poor and doling out farm loan waivers, Siddaramaiah has tried to project himself as a messiah of the masses while hoping to dilute the anti-incumbency factor.

'One vote can change the world' 84-year-old Subraya Kamath was seen waiting for his turn with his granddaughter, who came down from Manipal University to cast her vote in Gulabi school polling booth at Shivajinagar constituency, in Bengaluru.

Polling in Bengaluru's Raja Rajeshwari Nagar segment has been postponed to May 28 following the discovery of voter ID cards and cancelled in the city's Jayanagar seat following the death of BJP contestant B N Vijaya Kumar.

With an overall voter turnout of 70 per cent, as per the Election Commission, the state saw a slight slump from the 2013 election numbers when as many as 71.4 per cent of Karnataka had voted. However, the breakaway party - Karnataka Janata Paksha - formed by Yeddyurappa polled 9.8% while the BSR Congress, another breakaway group from the BJP, recorded a 2.7% vote share. NDTV's "poll of exit polls" predicts that BJP would get 100 seats, followed by Congress (86), and JDS (33).

The counting for the polling will take place on May 31. Though the central leadership of the BJP has denied any involvement with Janardhana Reddy, the latter has been campaigning for the party and particularly Sriramulu in Molakalmuru (Chitradurga district).

"The markets will view the results as a testament of the government's popularity in midst of wider GST-led disruptions and asset market volatility", Radhika Rao, an economist of DBS Bank said in a note earlier this week.