India's general election vote count gets underway

New Delhi, May 16, 2014: Counting of votes, the grand finale in the nine-phased Lok Sabha elections, began on Friday morning across the country.

The Election Commission (EC) said the counting exercise, to be held at 989 counting centres, is likely to be completed by 4.00 pm and trends will start emerging by 9.30 am. By noon, a final picture could emerge on who would be the major players in the 16th Lok Sabha. Postal ballots will be counted first and will be followed by the counting of votes in electronic voting machines.

Of 989 counting centres, the maximum are in Andhra Pradesh at 168, followed by 98 in West Bengal, 76 in Uttar Pradesh, 64 in Odisha, 51 in Assam and 48 in Maharashtra.

Ahead of the counting of votes, Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath had said on Thursday that the highest-ever voter turnout of 66% was a result of “good” electoral rolls prepared by the poll authorities across the country. He had said “a lot of steps have been taken to ensure that those eligible to vote find their names in the electoral lists.” The exercise to add fresh voters was carried out even days before the first phase of polling was held on April 7. This year’s nine-phased general elections have witnessed the .

8,251 candidates, including 668 women and five transgenders, contested the battle for the 16th Lok Sabha. It including top guns Narendra Modi (Vadodara, Varanasi), Sonia Gandhi (Rae Bareli), Rahul Gandhi (Amethi) and Arvind Kejriwal (Varanasi) are in the fray, in the largest-ever electoral exercise held in Indian history.

While national parties Congress, BJP, BSP, CPI, CPI (M) and NCP – fielded a total of 1,591 candidates, the 47 state parties fielded 529 candidates. While the over 1,600 registered but unrecognised political parties fielded 2,897 candidates, 3,234 Independents are also in the fray.

The exit polls have projected that BJP will emerge as the single largest party.

(News Agency)