TS Awaits Unprecedented Verdict

Cut-off mark of 60 seats most watched, final result expected by 5 pm, winner to be spotted before noon

Hyderabad: The shape of the third Assembly of the young state of Telangana will be clear before noon. Whatever the outcome — a BRS hat-trick, the first Congress victory or, as is said in some exit polls, a hung House — it will be an unprecedented verdict.

Counting of the 2,32,59,256 votes that were polled for the 119 Assembly constituencies will begin with a tallying of the nearly 1 lakh postal ballots at 8 am, after a mock counting process for candidates and agents at 7 am.

The votes locked in the EVMs will be taken up for counting by 9 am. The initial trends are expected quickly, by 10 am, and the winner could be spotted before noon. The final results are expected to be in by 5 pm in most cases.

The figure to watch is the cut-off mark of 60 seats in the 119-seat Assembly.

The polling was held on November 30, which saw a voter turnout of 71.64 per cent. In 2018, the BRS, then known as the TRS, retained power for a second successive term by winning 88 seats and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao took oath for a second consecutive term in December 2018. If BRS emerges victorious on Sunday, Rao will have the honour of being the first Chief Minister in South India to retain the post for a third term.

It the Congress wins, it would form the first non-BRS government in the state. Under the leadership of TPCC president A. Revanth Reddy, the Congress has mounted an all-out effort to oust the ruling party and is confident of triumphing with a clear majority. The Congress is banking on its Six Guarantees and its manifesto.

The BJP, which conducted an elaborate campaign with a host of top leaders, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union minister Amit Shah and state BJP president G. Kishan Reddy, is expecting a hung Assembly, where it hopes to play a key role in government formation by winning a significant number of seats.

In 2018, the Congress won 19 seats and the BJP one seat, which was later boosted to three by byelections.

Gajwel, Chief Minister Rao's original constituency, and Kamareddy, from where he is also contesting, have become the cynosure of all attention. The BJP has fielded senior leader Etala Rajender, once a confidant of Rao, in Gajwel while Congress has fielded A. Revanth Reddy in Kamareddy.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has set up 49 counting centres and the district electoral officers, the collectors, have stated that they have made all arrangements for the counting of EVMs. EVM engineers have been posted at all counting centres to quickly respond to malfunctioning equipment.

The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Vikas Raj has directed all returning officers (ROs), presiding officers and observers to be vigilant. For each table earmarked for counting votes, the RO will appoint a counting supervisor, a counting assistant, counting staff from among Group D employees, and a micro-observer.

The ECI has obtained permission to provide more counting tables in constituencies with a larger number of contestants, for example, 14 in Nalgonda.

The police have provided personnel at counting centres and Section 144 of CrPC would be in force to prevent the formation of groups and untoward incidents. Only candidates and their agents would be allowed inside the counting centres.

Victory rallies and bursting of firecrackers in the open have been banned.

District superintendents of police and ECI officials would monitor the situation via CCTVs installed at all counting centres in the state.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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