Friday, 16 May 2014

The counting of votes will start at 8am, with postal ballots being counted first.

NEW DELHI: Finally, the day of results in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections is here.

After a marathon 9-phase voting, which recorded the highest voter turnout ever at 66.4%, the votes will be counted on Friday and the country will finally know the contours of the next Lok Sabha.

Counting of votes on EVM ballot units may begin half-an-hour after the counting for postal ballots starts.

The first trends from EVMs at 989 counting centres across the country are expected to trickle in as early as 8.30am to 9am. By around 11am a clear picture pointing to the single largest party or pre-poll alliance may be available.

The final results are likely to be known by 3pm or 4pm, according to estimates given by EC officials.

With almost all exit polls predicting a clear NDA win, celebrations in BJP have started early.

Excited over the prospect of return to power at the Centre after 10 years, the BJP leaders are already discussing the modalities of government formation.

Narendra Modi, who led the BJP campaign as party's prime ministerial candidate, will stay away from Delhi on the counting day and remain in his home state of Gujarat.

As another exit poll predicted a clear victory for a BJP- led coalition, the party on Wednesday began planning for the next government in right earnest with three key leaders flying to Gandhinagar to meet PM candidate Narendra Modi while meetings were held in the Capital too. Modi's immediate challenge is to select heavyweight party leaders for key cabinet assignments without ruffling any feathers strike a balance In dividing talent between the party and government, and suitably date the two veterans, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. 

That Modi wants to implement his election promise - 'less government, more governance. ' — by going in with a smaller cabinet could leave him with less elbow room to man oeuvre, given the lave number of aspirants for key cabinet posts. For instance, the agriculture, food and civil supplies and fertilizer ministries— could all be brought under one cabinet minister.

Modi, who has been meeting senior party leaders, to discuss the future course of action, is scheduled to hold two victory rallies in Vadodara and Ahmedabad on Friday.

He is expected to come to Delhi on Saturday.

The BJP has been busy trying to win over senior leaders who were initially opposed to Modi being projected as prime ministerial candidate.

The Congress, however, is gearing up to face its worst-ever performance, despite a spirited campaign led by vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul, who drew flak for missing the farewell dinner for PM, is back in Delhi and is likely to face media once the results are out.

The exit polls have predicted a virtual rout for the party that ruled the country for the last ten years.

Congress has dismissed the exit poll surveys, but several of its leaders have already conceded defeat.

Senior leader Rashid Alvi on Thursday said Congress will not be in a position to dictate the power play and suggested that it back a "secular" front headed by Mamata Banerjee.

An embarrassed Congress was quick to distance itself from Alvi's remark calling it his 'personal opinion'.

The Lok Sabha results will decide the fate and political future of several important leaders of different parties.

Lalu Prasad in Bihar has a lot at stake as he tries to win back the lost political glory. Exit polls have predicted a tough contest for both his wife Rabri Devi and daughter Misa Bharti.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who parted ways with the BJP, will be hoping that the exit poll predictions about his party don't come true.

Similarly, in Karnataka the results will decide the future of former chief minister Yeddyurappa who returned to the BJP before the Lok Sabha polls.

The TDP, YSR Congress, TRS will anxiously await their political fortunes sealed in EVMs.

Several regional parties across the country are pinning their hopes on electoral gains to increase their bargaining power in case the verdict throws up a hung House.

The 2014 elections will go down in history as one of the most bitterly contested elections, with leaders indulging in sharp attacks.

How the votes are counted

Each EVM ballot unit will be taken up for counting in one round at each counting table. However, the last round of EVM count can be held only after the counting of postal ballots is complete.

Before counting, the seals on the control unit are duly checked. Once the seals are found in order, the ballot unit is switched on and the results button pressed. This brings up details such as number of candidates, total votes cast and distribution of votes among the candidates as well as NOTA option on the display panel of the EVM.

The result is then noted by the counting supervisor in Part II-Result of Counting of Form 17C. This is then signed by the counting supervisor and counter-signed by candidates or their agents present at the counting table. The form is then sent to the returning officer, who inspects and signs it, before passing it on to the officer who is compiling the final result and preparing the final result sheet in Form 20.

Form 20 lists the station-wise votes polled by each candidate. After the entire counting is over, the returning officer announces the total votes polled by each candidate as recorded in the final result sheet. It is only after this that the candidate or his agent may apply for a recount.

Where a paper audit trail has been used, the candidate or counting agent can call for a count of the paper slips in the drop box attached to the EVM. The returning officer will decide whether to allow the request for recounting of votes in EVM or of VVPAT slips. A recount is not allowed after the returning officer has completed and signed the result sheet.

EC observers supervise the entire counting process and can stop counting at any time before the result is declared or decide not to declare the result if any malpractice is detected. A final call is then taken by EC based on the observer's report.

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