Karnataka will go to polls on May 12 and counting of votes to elect 224 legislators will be May 15, OP Rawat, Chief Election Commissioner, said on Tuesday.

"The Commission has prepared the schedule for elections after taking into consideration all relevant aspects such as climatic conditions, academic calendar, major festivals, prevailing law and order situation in the State, availability of Central Police Forces, time needed for movement, transportation and timely deployment of forces and in-depth assessment of other relevant ground realities,” Rawat said, addressing a press conference to announce the poll schedule. He said that the Commission decided to conduct polls on a single day as this is what the political parties wanted.

The last date for filing of nominations for polls for the Karnataka Assembly is April 24 while April 27 is the last date for withdrawal of candidature. The State has 4.96 crore eligible voters, the CEC said, adding that electronic voting machine and voter verifiable paper audit trail in all polling stations in the state.

The State will have 56,696 polling stations, an almost 9 per cent increase from the 52,034 set up during the 2013 assembly elections. Each candidate will be allowed to spend up to ₹ 28 lakh towards their election campaign.

Model Code of Conduct

The Model Code of Conduct, which is a code of behaviour for candidates, parties and the incumbent government on campaign trail, comes into immediate effect, Rawat said adding that it will be applicable on the state government and the Union government as regards announcements, policy decisions pertaining to and for Karnataka. The code also bars candidates from using unfair means to influence voters.

For the first time, 224 women-managed polling stations will be set up in the State.

The polls are being seen politically crucial for the ruling Congress as well as the BJP as it is the only big state where the former is in power after losing a string of Assembly elections to the saffron party in the last few years.

The BJP is making a concerted bid to unseat the Congress.

Besides the Congress and the BJP, the JD(S) led by former prime minister HD Deve Gowda is the third player in the fray.