BENGALURU: Karnataka could return a split verdict with the BJP as the single largest party and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda a kingmaker, an aggregate of nine exit polls show. But the exit polls were deeply divided on the outcome -- five of them predicting that the BJP will be the single largest party. Two of them suggested that there is an outside chance that the party will gain majority.
Four exit polls said the single largest party will be the Congress, which is hoping for a second term in power. Only one exit poll suggested a possible majority for the party.
An aggregate of nine exit polls shows the BJP will get 97 seats and the Congress 90 seats -- considerably below the 112 needed for majority for the 222 seats on which elections were held today. It gives 31 seats to the JD(S). The counting of votes will take place on Tuesday.
Five exit polls -- the ABP News-C Voter, Dighvijay News, News Nation, News X-CNX and Republic TV-Jan Ki Baat suggested that the BJP will gain above 100 seats.
Four exit polls -- Times Now-VMR, India TV, Aaj Tak-Axis and Suvarna TV -- suggested that the Congress will be the single largest party. The outside limit for Aaj Tak-Axis and Suvarna TV give the party a majority.
Health warning: Exit polls often get it wrong.
The exit poll results came in as polling ended in Karnataka at 6 pm. The turnout was 70 per cent - below the 72 per cent polling in the last elections in 2013, which went in favour of the Congress. In the 2008 election that brought the BJP to power, the turnout was much lower - 65 per cent.
The leaders of all three parties have claimed that they will win majority. Mr Deve Gowda, who has teamed up with Mayawati - the Dalit powerhouse from Uttar Pradesh - has so far expressed unwillingness to join forces with the BJP or the Congress.
Late in the evening, asked if the Congress will seek help from Mr Deve Gowda in case of a hung assembly, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the "situation does not arise".