Assembly election results: Stage set for counting of votes, all eyes on Gujarat & Himachal

NEW DELHI: After weeks of hectic campaigning, all eyes are now on high-stake Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly election results. The counting of votes will be held tomorrow.
The polls for Gujarat were held in two phases on December 1 and 5 across 33 districts of the BJP-ruled state. Meanwhile, the voting process to elect candidates on 68 assembly seats of Himachal Pradesh was held on November 12.
Elaborate and foolproof arrangements have been made at all the counting centres. All strong rooms, where polled EVMs are kept, are under three-layered security with inner cordon manned by Central Armed Forces.
1,621 candidates in fray in Gujarat
Just like the previous assembly polls, the Gujarat elections will be a prestige battle for BJP which has firmly entrenched itself in the coastal state’s political landscape. Being the home state of two of the country’s tallest political leaders — Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah — winning the elections mean yet another stamp of approval for BJP and its top poster boys.

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The Congress, which ran a rather muted campaign in the state, is hopeful of consolidating its gains from 2017 when it managed to improve its tally to 77 seats. However, the grand old party has since seen an exodus of several top leaders, including Hardik Patel.
Meanwhile, the AAP will be looking to make a strong debut in the state, hoping to make deep inroads in its attempt to dislodge the Congress as the principal challenger to the BJP. Compared to Congress, the AAP ran a rather aggressive campaign in the state spearheaded by party chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.
Himachal Pradesh: Fate of 412 candidates to be decided
Finally, the fate of 412 candidates contesting for the 68 assembly seats of Himachal Pradesh will be decided on Thursday. The election results will prove whether BJP has succeeded in changing the trend of not repeating government after five years or Congress has managed to continue with the trend of changing government by throwing BJP out of power.
Arch rivals BJP and Congress have contested on all the 68 assembly seats, AAP on 67 seats, BSP on 53 seats, Rashtriya Devbhoomi Party, which had spearheaded an agitation demanding constitution of Swaran Ayog, on 29 seats and on 11 seats. There are 99 independent candidates including rebels of BJP and Congress besides candidates of other smaller parties.
Exit polls predict BJP set for landslide victory in Gujarat, has edge over Congress in Himachal Pradesh
The exit polls have predicted a massive victory for the BJP in Gujarat, where it is likely to surpass its previous best performance of 127 seats in the state in 2002.
In Himachal, the saffron party and the Congress may be locked in a close contest. However, the poll of exit polls shows that the BJP will manage to reach the halfway mark in the state. While most of the exit polls are predicting a BJP victory in the state, Axis My India exit poll shows the Congress ahead in the hill state.
The Aam Aadmi Party, which had carried out a high-pitch campaign in Gujarat led by its leader Arvind Kejriwal, will make marginal gains in the state but will fall way short of its tall claims of upsetting the BJP’s apple cart. The exit polls predict that AAP may just about manage to be around the double figure mark in the state.
EC reviews counting day preparations
The counting of votes for the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh polls along with six assembly and one Lok Sabha by-elections will commence at 8 am on Thursday with prohibitory orders in place around counting halls to ensure peace and tranquillity.
According to the Election Commission, the counting of votes will take place at a total of 116 counting centres in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and Odisha, Bihar, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh where six assembly and one Lok Sabha bypolls were held.
In a statement, the EC said counting of votes will be taken up for postal ballots at 8 am and will continue till it is completed.
One counting observer per assembly seat has been deputed in Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and for the bypolls. Two special observers each in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat will be on ground to ensure the smooth counting process, the EC said.
After each round of counting, tabulation of results in a prescribed format is carried out. This is signed by the returning officer and the observer, and a copy is shared with the candidates.
After the announcement of round-wise results, counting of next round will be taken up in accordance with the existing instructions.

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