Stage set for counting of votes in five States
   Date :10-Mar-2022

 CISF personnel guard at the Ramabai Maidan counting centre, a day before counting of votes for Assembly polls, in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday. (R) Paramilitary personnel stand at guard outside a sealed ‘strong room’ where Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are kept a day before the result of Punjab Assembly polls in Amritsar on Wednesday. (PTI)
Counting of votes for Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa Assembly polls to begin at 8 am today 
WITH exit polls predicting victory for it in three out of five Assembly elections, a confident BJP is looking forward to the counting of votes on Thursday, even as a hopeful opponents look to prevent its rival from returning to power in the respective States. Counting of votes in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, where people voted in phases from February 10 to March 5, will start at 8 am. UTTAR PRADESH: Almost all the exit polls have predicted that the BJP will return to power in Uttar Pradesh. They have forecast an increase in Samajwadi Party’s tally but not enough to form the Government. The exit polls have forecast double-digit numbers for the BSP and single-digit count for the Congress. Both the SP and BSP have dismissed the exit polls, claiming that they would win the poll comfortably and form their Government in the State, which has a 403-member Assembly.
If the BJP comes to power, it would be a record for a party getting re-elected in UP for a second term in over three decades. In 2017, BJP had won 312 seats on its own while NDA’s figure was 325. The SP had won 47, BSP 19 and the Congress had won seven seats, two less than Apna Dal (S) at nine. The BJP went in the polls this time with Apna Dal (Sonelal) and NISHAD party while Akhilesh Yadav had formed a rainbow coalition with RLD and a string of regional parties, including Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP). The voting for the politically-important State was done in seven rounds starting February 10. Elaborating about arrangements on March 10, election official said, “COVID protocols, including the use of hand gloves, sanitisers, masks, thermal scanners and adhering to social distancing norms, will be followed at the counting centres throughout the State.” Elaborating on the security arrangements, the official said a three-layer security set-up has been made comprising of central police forces, PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary) and the state police. A total of 250 companies of CAPFs (Central Armed Police Forces) have been provided to all the districts and commissionerates on March 10, the police said. PUNJAB: For 117 Assembly seats in Punjab, the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has emerged as a major contender while the Congress is seeking to retain power in the multi-cornered contest. Various exit polls have predicted that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will form the next Government in Punjab but a few have also forecast a hung Assembly in the State which had witnessed a high-stakes contest on February 20. A total of 1,304 candidates, including 93 women and two transgenders, were in the fray.
The State recorded voter turnout of 71.95 per cent. It was the lowest percentage as compared to the voting percentage observed in three previous Assembly elections. In the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, the voting percentage recorded was 77.40. UTTARAKHAND: The exit polls on Monday predicted a close race in Uttarakhand, with many of them giving an edge to the BJP to form the Government. Some exit polls also predicted that Congress would finish ahead and could cross the halfway mark in the 70-member Assembly. Polling in Uttarakhand took place on February 14 and the counting of votes will take place on March 10. District Election Officer Vinay Shankar Pandey took stock of preparations ahead of the counting of votes on Thursday. “He said that the number of booths is more in the five Assembly constituencies.
Among them, Haridwar, Ranipur, Khanpur, Jhabreda and Haridwar will have a round of 14 tables, and in the remaining six Assembly constituencies, there will be a round of seven tables,” he added. MANIPUR: With exit polls predicting it to win the Manipur Assembly elections 2022, a confident BJP is looking forward to the counting of votes on Thursday, even as a hopeful Congress looks to prevent its rival from returning to power in the state. While the two major parties are expected to be the main protagonists as political drama unfolds in the next few days, others like the National People’s Party (NPP), Naga People’s Front (NPF) and JD(U) could also play crucial roles in the event of a mixed result with no single party securing a majority.
At the BJP’s State office in the heart of Imphal, the mood is upbeat with workers busy cleaning the office premises and erecting fresh party flags on the boundary wall, preparing for Thursday’s results. Meanwhile, at the Congress party office less than a kilometre away from the BJP office, it’s a quiet affair with the staff going about business as usual with no elaborate arrangements. GOA: Goa may know its new legislators by as early as 11 am on Thursday, Chief Electoral Office for Goa, Kunal said on Wednesday. He also urged the people of the State not to believe in rumours. “The process will begin with the counting of service voters, then, absentee voter ballots will be counted, after which polling officials ballots will be counted. Then at 8.30 am counting of EVMs will start,” Kunal said. A total 301 candidates are in the fray in the single-phase Assembly elections. Nearly 79 per cent voters cast votes in the February 14 polls in Goa. The top poll officer also said that elaborate security arrangements have been put in place at the counting centres.