With the curtains finally set to go up on the results of the assembly elections across five states on Tuesday, news channels are lining up an array of special programmes to hook viewers on D-day.
The staggered assembly elections across Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, which ended on Saturday, is the biggest popularity test held in the country since the Lok Sabha election in 2009.
With the exit polls predicting mixed results across the electorates, political leaders and voters are eagerly awaiting the counting of votes.
Taking a cue from the anticipation among the masses, Times Now has already started telecasting over 100 hours of content the channel has exclusively developed around the elections. Others like NDTV and CNN-IBN have scheduled day-long programmes to offer a combination of live coverage and in-depth analysis of the political fall-outs.
Led by Rajdeep Sardesai, the CNN-IBN editorial team comprising Sagarika Ghose, Bhupendra Choubey and Karan Thapar, will bring on-air updates and analysis as the election results unfold through the day. The channel will air election content from 7 am in the morning till midnight.
All eyes are on Uttar Pradesh where exit polls have predicted a 403-member hung assembly, with the Samajwadi Party expected to finish first and the Congress at fourth. Such an outcome would mean an end to Mayawati's five-year rule in India's most populous state and alter the dynamics of coalitions and alliances forged nationally prior to the general election in 2014.
To enable viewers in deciphering the verdict, CNN-IBN has roped in political analysts and commentators such as psephologist Yogendra Yadav, Sachidanand Murthy (resident editor, The Week), Prabhu Chawla, Manini Chatterjee and Swapan Dasgupta.
Senior executives at NDTV 24X7, too informed that majority of the content aired on the channel on Tuesday will be focused on the outcome of the assembly elections. "The election-special programmes will commence with Prannoy Roy and Dorab Sopariwala from 7 am tomorrow. They will be joined by Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi and Shekhar Gupta who will debate on the significance of the good turn-out seen in the polls this year," said an executive at NDTV24X7.
Record voting in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Uttarakhand has drawn varied interpretations with Opposition parties in the states claiming it to be a factor indicative of the ruling political parties losing favour with voters in the states.
The discussion will be followed by Barkha Dutt presenting insights of politics seen behind the numbers emerging from results in the five states. Shows anchored by Vikram Chandra with guest commentators will continue through the day, before Prannoy Roy wraps it off with a re-cap episode between 9 and 11 pm.
On NDTV India, while the main broadcast will be choreographed by a trio of Vinod Dua, Abhigyan Prakash and Ravish Kumar from the Delhi headquarters; Manoranjan Bharati, political editor, will give viewers a special insight from the specially done up election studio in Lucknow. Several party headquarters are linked to the Lucknow studio for multiple live windows and simulcast.
NDTV India is also focusing equally on the important states of Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa and has set up several field studios for continuous live coverage. Ahead of the counting day, the channel has changed its entire look and has designed a virtual set to give viewers a real life experience.