Stage set for counting of votes, 3-tier security in Assam, NE
GUWAHATI, May 22: Extensive arrangements have been made to ensure that counting of votes polled in 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam goes off without a hitch on Thursday. The counting will start at 8 am on Thursday at 51 counting centres across the state. The counting of votes will be started with the postal ballots followed by EVMs.
The counting of votes for the seven-phase elections to country’s lower house of parliament, 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 officials said there will be a three-tier security system with the police, other security forces and armed battalions and the central armed forces guarding them.
Buoyed by exit poll predictions, a day ahead of the counting, the BJP workers have already begun preparing for the party’s “victory” by erecting pandals, booking boxes of sweetmeats to distribute among the public. The party workers at the BJP headquarters in Guwahati were enthused and confident of the massive victory.
The exit polls on May 19 forecast an absolute victory for the BJP with a total of 300 seats in the Lok Sabha crossing the mark of 272 seats and a second term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Our preparations are on in full swing. The people are also excited as we are confident that the BJP will come back to power. We are erecting a pandal. We will distribute sweets tomorrow. We will enjoy a big feast in the afternoon,” said a party worker at the BJP headquarters in Hengrabari here.
In Nagaland, all arrangements have been put in place for counting of votes for the lone Lok Sabha seat and by poll to the Aonglenden Assembly constituency in the state on Thursday.
Nagaland chief electoral officer Abhijit Sinha said counting of votes for the parliamentary constituency will commence at 8am in 13 locations across the state.
The CEO said all the 21 observers, deployed by the Election Commission of India, have reached their respective locations and reviewed the counting arrangements.
Sinha said the results will be displayed live on the website of the Election Commissionhttps://results.eci.gov.in and it can also be seen in the voter helpline mobile app which is available for download in the Google Playstore.
In all the counting centres across the state, media cells have been made where media persons will get regular updates on the counting trends. The CEO said the live counting of the trends will also be shown through a projector at Old NST area in Kohima.
The results of elections to the two Lok Sabha constituencies and one Assembly constituency in Meghalaya will be declared on Thursday.
But the counting would take time and the complete results are expected by 4 pm on Thursday, stated Meghalaya chief electoral officer Fredrick Roy Kharkon.
The elections to Shillong Lok Sabha and Tura Lok Sabha constituencies and by-election to Selsella Assembly constituency were held on April 11.
Meghalaya CEO Kharkongor on Wednesday said a three-tier security was being arranged at the counting centres. The Election Commission has deputed 15 observers – nine for the Shillong Lok Sabha constituency, and six for the Tura Lok Sabha constituency, he added.
CCTVs have been also installed in all the counting centres. The strong rooms are being guarded by security personnel.
“Counting of votes will begin with postal ballots, to be followed by counting of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) slips for tallying with voted recorded in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs),” Kharkongor said.
VVPAT slips will be counted in five polling stations from each Assembly constituency – 300 polling stations in all the 60 Assembly constituencies.
According to the CEO, five polling booths from each Assembly seat would be selected through the draw of lots.
“Counting of slips in one VVPAT would take at least 45 minutes and the counting will be held in a special ‘VVPAT counting booth’ of the counting hall,” Kharkongor said. The counting centres for the Shillong Lok Sabha constituency are Shillong, Sohra, Jowai, Khliehriat, Nongpoh, Mawkyrwat, Nongstoiñ, and Mairang.
For the Tura Lok Sabha constituency and Selsella Assembly by-election, the counting of votes will take place at Tura, Williamnagar, Baghmara, Resubelpara and Ampati.
The biggest among the counting centres is Shillong as votes polled in 15 Assembly segments under East Khasi Hills district would be counted at three halls of Indoor Sports Hall and Dalang Stage, Polo in Shillong. The Tura Lok Sabha constituency witnessed a high turnout of 81.30 per cent in the Lok Sabha polls and the Shillong Lok Sabha seat recorded 65.49 per cent.
Voting percentage in the by-election to Selsella Assembly constituency was 92.20 pc. The state recorded an overall turnout of 71.41 per cent.
From Shillong Lok Sabha seat, six candidates include sitting Congress MP, Vincent H. Pala, Sanbor Shullai of the BJP, Jemino Mawthoh of the UDP and three Independents – T.H.S. Bonney, Romeo Phira Ranee and Samuel Hashah from Shillong constituency are in the fray.
From Tura Lok Sabha constituency, former chief minister Mukul Sangma of the Congress, former union minister Agatha K Sangma of the ruling NPP and Rikman G Momin of the BJP are in the fray.
From Selsella Assembly constituency, four candidates are in the fray – Ferlin CA Sangma of the NPP, June Eliana R Marak of the Congress and the widow of Selsella MLA, Clement Marak, Sayeedullah Nongrum of the United Democratic Party and Adorsho Sangma of the BJP. The by-election to Selsella Assembly seat was necessitated following the death of the sitting MLA (Clement Marak) on October 8 last year.