Polls today, Cong pins hope on BSY

FPPoll officers check EVMs before leaving for their stations Saturday. PTI

After two weeks of campaigning, marked by high voltage verbal jousting between top Congress and BJP leaders, the fate of 4,120 odd candidates who filed nominations in the 223 constituencies of the Karnataka assembly will be decided by the 4.30 crore electorate in the state on Sunday.

Polling in one of the total of 224 constituencies, Periyapatna, has been pushed back following the death of the BJP candidate.

The polls come against the backdrop of a strong anti-incumbency undercurrent against the BJP, which emerged the single largest party in the 2008 polls before consolidating its position with the support of Independents and poaching of MLAs from the Congress and JD(S).

The campaign over the past fortnight has seen the Congress bringing in leaders of every size and stature to push the party towards a victory that it has been scenting since March when after five years of insipid electoral performances the party landed a huge bounty in urban local bodies.

The front end of the Congress campaign was brought up by the likes of Sonia Gandhi, PM Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi while film stars and cricketers like Chiranjeevi, Ramya and Mohammed Azharuddin campaigned in places where they hold sway.

The thrust of the Congress campaign was the misgovernance and corruption under the BJP rule. The changing of three BJP chief ministers, the arrest of one, the loot of iron ore by some ministers were all centerstage in the Congress campaign as the party sought votes from the electorate on the grounds of providing good governance, stability and development.

Behind the scenes, the Congress strategy has involved reliance on a new regional party floated by former BJP chief minister B S Yeddyurappa splitting the BJP's Lingayat vote base in north Karnataka while the Congress consolidates its traditional vote base of OBCs, SC/ST and minorities.

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