The fate of the candidates locked in EVMs for 230 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh will be unsealed on Sunday as arrangements for counting of votes are ready, a top poll official said on Saturday.
Many exit polls have kept the incumbent Bharatiya Janata party ahead of the Congress in what was a straight contest between two main parties. Assembly polls were held in the state in a single phase on November 17.
The state saw a record voter turnout of 77.82 per cent, 2.19 per cent more than the 2018 elections, the official said.
The counting for all 230 assembly seats in MP will begin at 8 am on Sunday (December 3) at 52 district headquarters amid tight security.
“All necessary preparations for the counting have been made,” he said.
Chief Electoral Officer of Madhya Pradesh Anupam Rajan said that 77.15 polling per cent was recorded through the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
If postal ballots are added, the polling percentage goes up to 77.82, which is 2.19 percentage points more than the previous polls (2018), when turnout was 75.63 per cent, Rajan said.
A total of 692 tables have been placed for the counting of postal ballots in all districts, while 4,369 tables have been set up to place the EVMs, he said.
According to Rajan, postal ballots will be counted between 8 am and 8.30 am, after which the counting of votes through EVMs will begin in the presence of officials and political parties' authorised agents.
Soon after the postal ballots are counted, its result will be declared candidate-wise by the officials concerned and the exercise will be followed after the completion of each round of counting, he said.
At 26, Jhabua seat will see the highest number of counting rounds, while the lowest number of 12 rounds will be held in Sevda constituency in Datia district, he said.
“All arrangements have been made for conducting the counting and all the district returning officers, police commissioners and superintendent of police were directed to follow necessary security protocols. The government has declared the day of counting a ‘dry' day, during which all wine and liquor shops shall remain closed,” he said.
A three-tier security arrangement will be in place and only people holding valid passes will be allowed to enter the counting centres, he said.
Rajan said that 51,259 citizens above 80 years and 12,093 physically challenged voters polled from home this time.
He said about 3.04 lakh personnel engaged in polling work exercised their franchise through postal ballots.
The EVMs will decide the electoral fate of 2,533 candidates who were in the fray for the 230 assembly seats, including political bigwigs like Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his predecessor and rival Kamal Nath, in a poll that was largely a bipolar battle between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.
Of the 230 seats, 47 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes and 35 for Scheduled Castes.
Besides CM Chouhan (from Budhni seat) and state Congress president Nath (Chhindwara), the EVMs will also decide the fate of three BJP Union ministers -- Narendra Singh Tomar, Prahlad Patel and Faggan Singh Kulaste.
It will also decide the political fortunes of BJP general secretary Kailash Vijaywrgiya who contested from Indore-1 and three Lok Sabha MPs of the saffron party -- Rakesh Singh, Ganesh Singh and Riti Pathak.
Besides main contenders Congress and the BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) are among the other players that fielded their candidates. The number of votes garnered by these candidates will also be a crucial factor in deciding the winner from any constituency.
The electioneering saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda, Union minister Rajnath Singh, CM Chouhan addressing rallies to drum up support for the saffron party's nominees.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, party leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Digvijaya Singh and Nath were among the key leaders of the opposition party who held rallies to canvass for their nominees.