Assembly polls: Counting of votes underway in 4 states

New Delhi: Counting of votes began on Sunday for the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana elections in what is seen as a semi-final contest ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in less than six months.

The Congress, which is in power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, and the BJP, which is ruling Madhya Pradesh, are locked in a straight fight in these three states, while K Chandrashekhar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) is hoping for a hat-trick in Telangana.

Pollsters have been divided on the outcome, with quite a few exit polls putting the BJP ahead in Madhya Pradesh and giving it an edge in Rajasthan while predicting that Congress has an advantage in Telangana and Chhattisgarh.

Counting commenced at 8 am amid tight security for 230 seats in Madhya Pradesh, 90 seats in Chhattisgarh, 119 seats in Telangana and 199 seats in Rajasthan as polling on one seat in the desert state was put off due to the death of a candidate. In Mizoram, counting will be held on Monday A three-tier security arrangement has been put in place and only people holding valid passes will be allowed to enter the counting centres, election officials said.

After wresting Karnataka from the BJP in May, the Congress is eyeing Madhya Pradesh and Telangana and is hoping to retain power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. An impressive performance in these polls will boost the party’s standing in the opposition INDIA alliance which has been formed to take on the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

***Madhya Pradesh**** The counting for 230 assembly seats in MP is being held at 52 district headquarters, officials said.

As many as 2,533 candidates are in the fray, 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.

***Rajasthan*** Counting of votes polled in the November 25 assembly elections in Rajasthan is being done at 36 centres in the state on Sunday, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Praveen Gupta said.

Over 1,800 candidates are in the fray in 199 seats in Rajasthan where power has alternated between Congress and BJP every five years in the last three decades.

While 30 election districts have one counting centre, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Nagaur have two centres each, Gupta said. Election in Karanpur was postponed following the death of Congress candidate Gurmeet Singh Koonar.

***Chhattisgarh*** Tight security arrangements have been made in all counting centres in the state’s 33 districts, including the ones affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE), officials said.

“A total of 90 returning officers, 416 assistant returning officers, 4596 counting personnel and 1698 micro-observers have been appointed for carrying out the counting process smoothly,” Chhattisgarh Chief Electoral Officer Reena Baba Saheb Kangale said at a press conference.

As many as 1,181 candidates are in the fray, including Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Deputy Chief Minister TS Singh Deo (both from Congress) and former CM Raman Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

***Telangana**** As many as 2,290 contestants are in the fray in the elections, including BRS supremo Chandrasekhar Rao, his minister-son KT Rama Rao, TPCC president A Revanth Reddy and BJP Lok Sabha members Bandi Sanjay Kumar, D Arvind and Soyam Bapu Rao.

The BRS has fielded candidates in all 119 seats while the Congress gave one seat to its ally CPI. The BJP and Janasena contested 111 and 8 seats respectively in a pre-poll pact/ The Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM has put up candidates in nine segments in the city.

Several segments witnessed triangular contests making them keenly watched ones.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is contesting from two segments-Gajwel and Kamareddy.