New Delhi, May 12
The people’s mandate would not only test the NDA’s ‘feel good’ campaign, which resulted in the advancement of the General Election eight months ahead of schedule, it would also check the validity of opinion and exit polls, which have predicted hung Parliament.
This has resulted in political parties to evolve strategy for the post-poll scenario with the Congress and NDA finalising their moves to woo potential allies.
Although the counting would commence at 8 a.m., clear indications of who would form the government or the people have decided to give a fractured mandate would be known by afternoon.
Apart from the counting of votes for 539 Lok Sabha seats, counting would also be taken up for Karnataka, Orissa and Sikkim state assemblies.
An estimated 350 million voters or 55 per cent of the 670 million voters exercised their franchise to decide the shape of the 14th Lok Sabha.
EC sources said counting would not be done for four parliamentary seats — Outer Mainpur, Chhapra, Bettiah and Siwan. While the elections in Chhapra has been countermanded following complaints of large-scale rigging, EC teams have probed similar allegations in other constituencies.
In a departure from the previous General Election, this time all results are expected to be declared by the same evening as the Election Commission used electronic voting machines in all polling stations.
Counting would take place in over 1,200 counting centres throughout the country and elaborate security arrangements have been made for the exercise.
The verdict would decide the fate of 5,435 candidates, including 354 women in the fray.
Important personalities in the electoral fray include Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul, former Prime Minister Chandrasekhar, UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati.
Apart from making elaborate arrangements for counting, the commission has also spruced up its website (eci.gov.in) to bring in upto date information on leads, results, swings and vote share.