Various exit polls on Sunday gave the BJP a clear lead in Karnataka where the saffron party had faced a joint Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) campaign. A poll-of-polls collated by NDTV gave the BJP a tally of 19 out of the state's 28 Lok Sabha seats.
The seat tally projected by individual polls broadly follows a similar pattern to previous elections -- in each of the three Lok Sabha elections between 2004 and 2014, the BJP had pocketed between 17-19 seats. In 2014, the party's tally was 17 seats while the Congress won 9 and the JD(S) 2.
On Sunday, the C-Voter exit poll projected 18 seats to the BJP, 7 and 2 to Congress and JD(S) respectively. The India Today-Axis estimate gave a larger lead to the BJP, pointing at a range of 21-25 seats while giving 3-6 seats to Congress and 1-3 seats to JD(S).
The Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), which run a coalition government in Karnataka, went into elections under a seat sharing pact, making it a straight fight in all the seats. It was the first time that these two parties, traditionally rivals in southern Karnataka, have fought a Lok Sabha election as allies. Karnataka voted in the second and third phases on April 18 and 23.
While the JD(S)-Congress top brass put up a united face during Karnataka's two-phase elections, tensions within Karnataka's ruling coalition have seemingly come to the fore in the past couple of weeks. As some Congress leaders were rooting for another term as CM for Siddaramaiah, drawing a barb from JD(S) state president A H Vishwanath. Amid the spat, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy's lament about Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge not being able to ascend to the CM's post, despite being his seniority, queered the pitch further.
The ongoing volleys even prompted a word of caution from Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao on Sunday. "It's my earnest appeal to the leaders of both Congress and JD(S) in Karnataka,to refrain from making any controversial statements in public," Rao tweeted.