New Delhi: The counting of votes for the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections, the world’s biggest democratic exercise, will take place on Thursday, bringing the curtains down on a bitterly-fought contest which the country rarely witnessed. Election Commission officials said the counting of votes for the 17th Lok Sabha will begin at 8 am on Thursday and results are expected only by late evening. Over 8,049 candidates were in the fray for 542 seats.
Most of the exit polls have predicted that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is on course to retain power for a second term, riding on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma like the way he swept to power in 2014.
However, the opposition parties have trashed results of the exit polls, claiming that the BJP will suffer severe drubbing due to rising unemployment, farm distress and slowdown in the economy.
The voting was staggered between April 11 and May 19 in which around 67 per cent of the nearly 900 million eligible people exercised their franchise to elect 542 members of the Lok Sabha from a total of 8,049 contestants.
Out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the EC had cancelled polls to the Vellore constituency on the ground of excessive use of money power.
In the 2014 elections, the BJP won 282 seats while the Congress had suffered a severe drubbing getting an all-time low of 44 seats as against 206 it won in 2009.
From ‘chowkidar chor hai’ and ‘bhrashtachari no. 1’ to ‘khaki underwear’, acerbic remarks ruled the roost this election season, making it one of the most bitterly-contested parliamentary polls post Independence.
Meanwhile, the Union home ministry alerted all states and Union Territories on the possibility of violence in different parts of the country, saying calls were given in various quarters for inciting violence.
In a statement, the ministry also said it has asked the states and UTs to maintain law and order, peace and public tranquillity.
The central security agencies have received inputs that some organisations and individuals, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Tripura, have given certain statements which may lead to violence and disruption in counting process, an official said....