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Lok Sabha election counting on Friday, will BJP-led NDA be lucky this time?
The ball which was set rolling to elect the 16th Lok Sabha 72 days ago will come to a rest when EVMs are opened and results declared on May 16.
New Delhi: Finally the day of reckoning is here. Even since the Election Commission on March 5, 2013 announced the schedule for the nine-phase Lok Sabha elections, India has been engulfed in a cacophony of sound and fury with leaders of all the political parties indulging in one of the most vicious, shrill, acerbic and no-holds barred campaign in their bid to capture power at the Centre.
The ball which was set rolling to elect the 16th Lok Sabha 72 days ago will finally to come to a rest when EVMs across the country are opened on May 16 and results declared. The marathon election saw the highest ever voter turnout in the history of Lok Sabha election history at 66.38 per cent. Out of the 83.05 crore voters (excluding service electors) 55.13 crore (excluding repoll and postal ballot) went to the polling stations and exercised their franchise.
The fate of 8,202 candidates including top leaders like BJP's Narendra Modi, LK Advani, General VK Singh, Congress's Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Samajwadi Party's Mulayam Singh Yadav, JDS chief HD Deve Gowda will be decided by Friday evening.
Exit and post-poll surveys conducted by various media organisations have predicted the victory of BJP-led NDA and the decimation of Congress-led UPA. Buoyed by the surveys, BJP leaders have already started planning their next move and talks about ministerial responsibilities have also begun.
But BJP's rivals have pointed out that surveys during the last two Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and 2009 went horribly wrong. On both the occasions surveys showed NDA winning but when it was the UPA which came out on the top.
The counting of votes at 989 centres across the country will begin at 8 AM with postal ballots being taken first. The Election Commission has issued guidelines that half-and-hour after the postal ballots are counted, the process of counting votes from the EVMs will begin. The 'ballot unit' will be switched on in the presence of senior poll officials and counting agents of candidates and the result command keyed in to get results per machine.
The first trends are likely to be available by 9 AM and a clear trend will be known by 11 AM. The final results are likely to be declared by 5 PM which will decide who forms the next government at the Centre.
These were the first Lok Sabha elections when the option of 'none of the above' (NOTA) was introduced on the EVMs following Supreme Court directions to ensure secrecy of voters who use this option. Before NOTA button was installed on EVMs, voters had to fill up form 49 'O' at the polling station which compromised their identity.
Where a paper trail audit or 'voter-verified paper audit trail' (VVPAT) has been used, the counting agent can call for a count of the paper slips in the drop box attached to the voting machine, but a final count is taken by the returning officer.
Once the results are declared, the names of the winning candidates will find mention in the gazette to be issued by the Election Commission. The gazette notification will initiate the process to form the next Lok Sabha.
The polling in all phases was by and large peaceful barring a few incidents by Maoists and some poll-related violence.
Security forces have been put on high alert all over the country to ensure peaceful law and order situation after counting of votes. The violence in Meerut and Hyderabad is also one of the reasons for the alert.
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