BJP vs Congress in Karnataka: The date for state's assembly election is out...Here's all you need to know!

The election schedule for the poll-bound Karnataka has been announced on Wednesday - March 29 amidst high expectations and political battle between both the rivals, Congress and BJP. While BJP aims to retain its reign, the Congress party is beefing up its campaign as it will be the litmus test for the party and, of course, for the new non-Gandhi president of the party, Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the son of the soil. 

It is the first time that Congress is contesting in the Karnataka polls under Kharge's leadership and it will also build a new stage of electoral campaign for Rahul Gandhi after getting disqualified as a Lok Sabha MP. The current assembly in Karnataka hits its deadline on May 24 and as the deadline nears, the Election Commission (EC) has on Wednesday announced the election schedule for the state. 

Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar unveiled the election schedule and announced that Karnataka will go for a single-phase assembly poll. The state has 224 assembly constituencies and the voting will be held on May 10. According to the election schedule, the filing of nominations will begin on April 13 and the last date of filing nominations will be April 20. 

The nominations will be scrutinized on April 21 and the last date to withdraw the nominations would be on April 24. The polling will be held on May 10 and the votes will be counted on May 13, during which the results will be declared. In what has become a high-stake election battle in the only South Indian state where BJP and Congress will lock horns directly and where BJP is in power with good majority, Karnataka will also become the first state to have home-voting facility. 

Announcing the schedule, the Chief Election Commissioner said that for the first time, Karnataka Assembly Election will have home-voting facility for the citizens who are 80 and above. By citing that 2,400 static surveillance teams will be deployed to keep vigil during the elections, Rajiv Kumar asserted that the Election Commission will strengthen measure to ban the use of money power.

The Election Commission will be setting up polling stations for over 5.21 crore voters across the state. Karnataka has 36 constituencies that are reserved for the candidates belong to Scheduled Castes and 15 seats for those who belong to Scheduled Tribes. In the upcoming election, about 9.17 lakh people will cast their votes for the first time. 

The Chief Election Commissioner has also announced that 41,432 voters, who would turn 18 between January 2 to April 1, would also be eligible to cast votes in the election. As Karnataka has nearly 17,000 voters who are above 100, this pilot project of 'home-voting facility' would play a vital role in ensuring that they cast their votes without any hassles and that it will also encourage the senior citizens to have their say in deciding the government. 

Karnataka has already been witnessing scorching political campaigns from both the rivals as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior BJP leaders have made frequent visits to the state and Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, have also been giving a tough fight. While BJP has set a target of winning at least 150 seats, 30 seats more than its current strength, the Congress and Janata Dal Secular, JD(S), have already announced their first list of candidates, 124 and 93, respectively. 

Earlier on Monday, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the BJP will commence its drive of choosing the candidates soon and that the party will be releasing people's manifesto. On the other hand, when it was said that the Election Commission will also announce the date for by-election in the Wayanad parliamentary constituency in Kerala after its MP, Rahul Gandhi was disqualified last week, there was no such announcement from the commission.