Congress appeared to be consolidating its lead after crossing the halfway mark in Karnataka assembly polls with the party leading on 117 seats according to early trends of results.
According to the latest data from Election Commission, the BJP is leading on 75 seats, Janata Dal (Secular) on 25, Independents on 5 and Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha and Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha on one each.
The party is maintaining almost seven per cent lead over the BJP in vote share.
The counting of votes began at 8 am amid tight security across the state.
Trends are now available for all 224 assembly seats in the state. The Congress has a vote share of 43 per cent while it is 36 per cent for BJP and 13 per cent for JD(S). The halfway mark in assembly is 113.
There were celebrations at Congress headquarters in Delhi in anticipation of victory.
Former Karnataka CM and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy visited a temple in Bengaluru amid the counting of votes for Karnataka polls. He is leading from Channapatna assembly constituency.
BJP’s Mahesh Tenginkai is leading while Congress leader Jagadish Shettar is trailing Hubli-Dharwad Central Assembly constituency. Shettar, a former Karnataka Chief Minister, had left the BJP and joined Congress after denial of ticket.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visited a Lord Hanuman temple in Shimla.
The exit polls predicted a hung assembly with some showing Congress returning to power with a majority. A few exit polls also showed BJP ahead.
If there is a hung assembly, Janata Dal (Secular) can play the role of a kingmaker.
Kumaraswamy on Saturday said that he has not been contacted as yet for the formation of the government in case of a cliffhanger, adding that he is hoping for a good show.
“In the next 2-3 hours, it will become clear. Exit polls show that the two national parties will score in a big way. The polls have given 30-32 seats to JD(S). I am a small party, there is no demand for me…I am hoping for a good development,” he said.
“No one has contacted me till now. Let us see the final results first. According to the exit polls, there is no need for options. Let us see,” the JD(S) leader added.
The exit polls, which were released after the polling ended in Karnataka, predicted that Janata Dal-Secular JD(S) would not touch the 37 seats it won in the 2018 polls but will continue to be a strong regional player in the state.
The fiercely contested election that saw high-pitch campaigns from the political parties is crucial for both BJP and Congress.
This report is filed by ANI news service.