Counting starts in 5 States including UP amid tight security

New Delhi: Amid tight security, counting of votes polled in the Assembly elections held in five States- Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur- started at 8 am today.

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.

Exit polls broadcast by television networks after the final phase of voting 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’.