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Countdown begins: From Exit Polls to Exact Results

Most of the exit polls for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections have forecasted a clear majority for the BJP-led NDA. However, the opposition parties have rejected these exit poll results and said that May 23 numbers will be different. Really, the counting of votes, starting in the morning on May 23, will present the exact picture. With the announcement of results, all speculations about the general elections will come to an end.

The countdown has begun. The Election Commission of India is prepared completely for the counting of votes. All arrangements have been made for peaceful and smooth counting. The Election Commission has said that there are around 1,600 counting servers to monitor the counting of 22.3 lakh ballot units, 16.3 lakh control units, and 17.3 lakh VVPATs. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections were held for 542 seats from April 11 to May 19, including 48 parliamentary constituencies of Maharashtra. The party or alliance that gets the majority mark of 272 will be the winner. Amid EVM row and fear of violence on Thursday, the Union Home Ministry has warned all the states to remain alert. The Ministry has asked states to increase the security of counting centres and EVM strongrooms.

On EVM row, Mahila Pradesh Congress General Secretary Manisha Rote told Afternoon Voice, “The Election Commission of India has become a puppet in the hands of the Union Government. If Modi government is not afraid of losing in the general elections, they should count VVPAT slips first and match them with EVMs. If it is not done so, a wrong message will go among voters and the common man.” Manisha Rote expressed hope that the Congress-NCP will win over 24 seats out of 48 seats in Maharashtra.

The Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim Assemblies also went to polls during the above period. The Election Commission will also declare the results for at least 534 Assembly seats.

It is worth mentioning that 12 of 14 exit polls predicted that the NDA will get a full majority with seats ranging from 282 to 365. An aggregate of exit polls predicted the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will win 302 seats and the Congress and its allies 122. Many exit polls predicted that SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh is likely to trump the BJP.

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee dismissed the exit poll results as gossip. She said, “The game plan is to manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs through this gossip. I appeal to all opposition parties to be united, strong and bold. We will fight this battle together.”  After the bitter and acrimonious election campaign, opposition leaders raised the issue of tampering of EVMs and conspiracy to manipulate votes or replace EVMs. They knocked the doors of the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of India but could not get any concrete assurance on matching of 50 to 100 per cent VVPAT slips with EVMs. The Opposition parties also raised concerns over the transportation of EVMs ahead of counting of votes. They urged the Election Commission to probe the issue.

BJP MLA and state party spokesman Atul Bhatkhalkar said, “All opposition leaders are frustrated. They don’t have any support of the common man. I advise them to visit a psychiatrist. PM Narendra Modi is a performer, he is hard working. Tomorrow evening Narendra Modi ji will again become the Prime Minister of India.”

On the other hand, NCP MP and advocate Majid Memon said, “It is not a fight between the ruling party and opposition. But it is a fight between the Election Commission of India and the common voters. There is no meaning of matching VVPAT slips with EVMs after the counting of votes. It is wrong to say that we are losing in the elections. So, we are raising this issue. Everybody should know that all opposition parties have been raising the issues of EVM tampering and matching of VVPAT slips with EVMS since the beginning of the electoral process.”

The BJP and its alliance welcomed the exit poll results. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah have begun preparations for NDA-2 government. BJP hosted a dinner for NDA leaders. Thirty-six NDA allies were present on this occasion. Three NDA allies who were not present, have given their support in writing.

On the other hand, the opposition leaders have also not given up hopes. They are in contact with a group of political leaders who can swing numbers in case the BJP-led NDA falls short of a majority. According to sources, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar has reached out to YSR Congress leader Jagan Mohan Reddy, Telangana Rashtra Samiti leader and the Chief Minister of Telangana K Chandrasekhar Rao and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Sharad Pawar has been in touch with Chandrababu Naidu, who has talks with leaders like Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Uttar Pradesh coalition partners Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. Chandrababu Naidu also met Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and his father Deve Gowda.

The opposition leaders have left no stone unturned to prevent PM Narendra Modi from coming back to power. However, exit poll results were a big blow for them. Therefore, their last hope depends only on Thursday’s final results.

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