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|October 5, 1999||
Tight security for counting tomorrow
The veil of suspense over the month-long elections to the 13th Lok Sabha and assemblies of five states lifts tomorrow with the counting of votes cast in the five-phase polling beginning at 0800 hrs.
Counting trends are expected to be available within a couple of hours from the 45 Lok Sabha constituencies where electronic voting machines were used. These include the seats contested by Prime Minister A B Vajpayee (Lucknow), Home Minister L K Advani (Gandhinagar) and Congress leader Dr Manmohan Singh (south Delhi).
Traditional method of counting will be followed in constituencies which had polling through ballot paper. The ballots will be shuffled first and made into bundles of 50 each before the actual counting starts. Trends from these constituencies are expected only in the afternoon and the counting would takes three to four days in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Counting will be taken up tomorrow in 538 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies and for 894 assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh (294 seats), Maharashtra (288), Karnataka (224), Arunachal Pradesh (56), and Sikkim (32).
Polling has been postponed to October 28 in five Lok Sabha constituencies -- Purnia, Bhagalpur, Rajmahal and Khagaria in Bihar due to floods and Dhubri in Assam following the killing of BJP candidate Pannalal Oswal.
Elections were not held in four assembly constituencies of Arunachal Pradesh as Chief Minister Mukut Mithi and three others were declared elected unopposed to the 60-member state assembly.
Tight security arrangements have been made at all the 1,500 counting centres set up in 900 cities and towns across the country, the Election Commission said today.
In view of the immense public interest counting generates, various television channels have made elaborate arrangements for live coverage of the results, while newspapers and other news establishments have put up huge electronic and manual boards in Delhi and other cities to display the same.
West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer Jawahar Sircar said counting of votes will be held in 600 halls spread across 96 counting centres.
Tight security arrangements have been made for counting in Tripura, Chief Electoral Officer Kishore Ambuly said in Agartala.
Paramilitary personnel and state security forces have been deployed At all counting centres and adjoining areas. Prohibitory orders under Sec 144 CRPC have been promulgated in and around the counting centres.
Allahabad Returning Officer Alok Tandon said the use of cellular phones inside the Mandi Samiti campus, where counting will take place, has been banned. Also, the district magistrate has ordered the closure of all wine shops within a radius of eight km of the samiti campus on October 6 and 7.
Kerala Director General of Police B S Sastry said five companies of armed police personnel would be deployed in each of the 14 districts to complement the permanent contingent of 2,000 police personnel in every district.
However, Kannur and Kasaragod constituencies in northern Kerala, where post-poll violence was witnessed, would each have an additional 2,000 personnel of the armed forces. Counting would take place at 140 stations.
In the Union Territory of Pondicherry, where EVMs were used in all 778 polling booths, the results are expected to be declared within six hours. The result of the assembly by-election in Bussy constituency is expected to be declared within half-an-hour.
Counting will be taken up amid tight security in Bellary where Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former union minister Sushma Swaraj of the Bharatiya Janata Party are the main contenders.
Deputy Commissioner and Bellary Returning Officer Raj Kamal said prohibitory orders under Sec 144 would be promulgated near the vicinity of the three counting centres.
Elaborate security arrangements are in place in all the 46 centres in Maharashtra, where counting will be held for 48 lok sabha and 288 assembly seats. About 1,000 election personnel will work round-the-clock at each counting centre.
In constituencies where ballot papers were used, counting is likely to start by 1600 hrs, after the papers are mixed and sorted, and the trends are likely to emerge by 1730 hrs.
Two giant screens have been set up outside Mantralaya in Bombay to display the latest trends and results.
In Chennai, a 10,000-strong police force, including ten companies of the Tamil Nadu Special Police and 100 commandos will be deployed to maintain law and order during counting. All bars and outlets selling indian-made foreign liquor in the city will remain closed between October 5 and 7.
About 20,000 security personnel have been deployed in Punjab for the counting of votes for the 13 Lok Sabha seats, Punjab Chief Electoral Officer Brajendra Singh said.
In Madhya Pradesh, 62 counting centres, spread over 61 districts, have been set up where more than 40,000 people will work round-the-clock.
In the Naxalite-affected Bastar divison, BSF personnel will be deployed at the counting centres and nearby places.
The state's public relations office at Raipur has set up loudspeakers to apprise the public about the trends and results. Also, the local cable network will beam a live telecast from the counting centre.
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