The Karnataka Assembly elections will be held on May 12, and counting of votes will be held May 15, the Election Commission (EC) announced today.
That means the model code of conduct will also come into force in the state immediately. The EC also said that April 24 will be the last date to file nominations and April 27 will be the last date for withdrawal of candidature.
The southern state is currently ruled by the Congress. In the upcoming elections, 224 seats are up for grabs. The term of the current Assembly ends May 28.
The previous assembly polls were held on May 5 in 2013 in a single phase, with 2,948 candidates in the fray. The state witnessed 71.45% polling back then.
For the Congress, incumbent chief minister Siddaramaiah remains the candidate for the top post. The BJP, meanwhile has pitched a former chief minister, BS Yeddyurappa, as its candidate for chief minister.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi and BJP national chief Amit Shah have already kicked off campaigning in Karnataka's battleground constituencies.
This state poll will test Congress president Rahul Gandhi's mass appeal, as it's the first Assembly elections since he took over as party chief. Rahul was made party head in the midst of elections in Gujarat in December.
For the BJP, a win will mark its entry to the South, which has held out the longest against a BJP onslaught. It's no wonder then that the party began its official campaign as far back as in November last year.
Meanwhile, the ruling Congress got a bit of a boost two days ago when seven JD(S) rebel former MLAs joined the party. The rebel MLAs resigned from the Karnataka legislative assembly a day after they cross-voted in favour of the Congress candidates in the March 23 Rajya Sabha biennial election in the state.
At a meeting yesterday, the names of all 122 sitting Congress MLAs and the recently joined Independent and JD(S) rebel legislators were recommended by the Congress State Election Committee.