Voting for the 224-member assembly began across Karnataka at 7 am today. The polling began at 58,546 polling stations each, equipped with Electronic Voting Machines and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails. Polling will conclude at 6 pm.

The election in Karnataka is considered crucial for the Congress Party, as it would be looking to prevent the Bharatiya Janata Party juggernaut from expanding its footprints in the south. Since the 2014 general election, the Congress has been defeated by the BJP in over a dozen states, drastically shrinking its political footprint. The BJP is making an all-out bid to oust the Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka and is looking to come back to power in the state with B.S. Yeddyurappa, its chief ministerial candidate. Interestingly, no incumbent government has been re-elected in Karnataka since 1985. The Janata Dal is looking to establish itself once again in Karnataka politics and is expected to give a tough fight to both the BJP and the Congress. A total of 2,654 candidates are in the fray and 4.96-crore electorate, including 2.44 crore women, will cast their votes. Over 15 lakh people are first-time voters in the 18-19 age group.

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