New Delhi: The clock is ticking. Amid tight security, counting of votes polled in the Assembly elections held in five States- Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur- will start tomorrow morning.
All eyes are especially on Uttar Pradesh, the largest State in India, as its results are being viewed as crucial to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
With exit polls predicting a fractured verdict in a couple of States, backroom negotiations have started, claim reports.
Exit polls broadcast by television networks after the final phase of voting Monday predicted the return of the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh and a comfortable victory for the AAP in Punjab.
The polls forecast a dead-heat race in Uttarakhand and Goa, both ruled by the BJP, signalling the possibility of hung Houses in the two small states. Pollsters also predicted a sweep for the BJP in Manipur where it is the ruling party.
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, on Tuesday, alleged that a top official in the Chief Minister’s secretariat was telephoning District Magistrates across Uttar Pradesh and asking them to slow down the counting process on Thursday if the Bharatiya Janata Party is losing.
He also said Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were stolen from a counting centre in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi just two days before the counting of votes.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission clarified that these EVMs were ‘marked for training’ of officials who will be on duty during the counting of votes and were not used in elections.
In a statement issued here late on Tuesday night, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer of UP said that a ‘rumour was spread by people of some political party by stopping the vehicle and alleging that these EVMs were used in elections’.
With the majority of exit polls predicting that BJP will retain power in Uttar Pradesh, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday said that her party fought the electoral battle hard.
‘We fought as hard as we could. We will wait and see the results,’ said Priyanka who was actively involved in the Uttar Pradesh polls.
Meanwhile, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Tuesday, a day after exit polls predicted a hung Assembly in the State.
Sawant exuded confidence in winning the Assembly elections and forming the next government in the State with the help of regional parties.
On the other hand, authorities in Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar have banned all victory processions on or after the day of counting of votes for the assembly polls in UP.