All eyes are riveted on tomorrow’s outcome of Gujarat and Himachal Assembly polls which witnessed record turnouts with pollsters predicting a third straight term in office for Narendra Modi and a Congress edge in the BJP-ruled hill state.
In Gujarat, where 71.32 per cent voters cast their ballot, the counting will be held for all the 182 Assembly constituencies in the state, culminating the much-watched poll exercise which started on October four with the Election Commission announcing the poll schedule.
Polling was held in two phases on December 13 and 17, and the counting will begin at 8 AM at 33 places in the state where 44,579 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have been kept in strong rooms under heavy security.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a third straight term in office and pollsters have predicted a landslide for BJP.
A big win will viably consolidate Modi’s position in his party.
The assembly elections were virtually a three-way fight with rebel BJP leader Keshubhai Patel, a former Chief Minister, launching his political outfit Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) months ahead of the polls and main Opposition Congress running a sustained and aggressive campaign against Modi.
Congress had lost power in the key western state in 1990.
Apart from the three main contenders, 33 other parties are also trying their luck at the hustings.
After a gap of 46 days, between November 4 polling and the counting day, counting of votes in Himachal Pradesh, which has a 68-member assembly, will be begin at 8 AM at 68 counting halls and all the results are expected to be declared by the evening, according state Chief Electoral Officer Narinder Chauhan.
Himachal had seen a record turnout of 74.7 per cent.
Exit and opinion polls on television channels have projected Congress as having an edge in BJP-ruled state.
Chauhan said the gap between polling and counting has caused an additional expenditure of Rs 4 crore on security of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
The total expenditure on polls was likely to be around Rs 10 crore, he said.