Bhopal, Dec 11 : Madhya Pradesh’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the principal-opposition Congress seemed heading for a photo finish at the conclusion of four hours of counting of Assembly poll votes on Tuesday as the lotus was leading in 112 constituencies and the hand in 111 even as others dominated in seven places.
Numerous ministers of the saffron party, which has been in the saddle for 15 years, are trailing and they include Dr Narottam Mishra who is behind Mr Rajendra Bharti (Congress) in Datia while in Morena Mr Rustam Singh is also not faring well. In Budhni, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is leading by a margin exceeding 10,000 over his nearest Congress rival Arun Yadav who served as his party’s state President.
Postal ballots were counted first for 230 seats and electronic voting machines taken up later, sources at the Chief Electoral Officer’s workplace said.
Counting of votes cast on November 28 commenced on Tuesday morning at all district headquarters amid heavy security bandobast. The official time for commencement of the process was 0800 hrs.
A total 75.05 per cent of an electorate exceeding five crore exercised their franchise to determine the fortunes of 2,899 candidates. The BJP is contesting all 230 seats, the principal-opposition Congress 229, the Bahujan Samaj Party 227 and the Aam Aadmi Party 208. This time it has been decided to provide certificates to nominees after each round of counting. Only returning officers and observers are being permitted to carry cellular phones into the counting centres.
The bigwigs in the fray include ex-Union Minister Suresh Pachouri (Bhojpur, Congress), Vidhan Sabha Speaker Sitasaran Sharma (Hoshangabad, BJP), former Union Minister Sartaj Singh (Hoshangabad, Congress) and Leader of the Opposition Ajay Singh (Churhat, Cong). Besides, state , Finance Minister Jayant Malaiya (Damoh), Revenue Minister Uma Shankar Gupta (Bhopal Dakshina-Pashchim) and Public Works Minister Rampal Singh (Silwani) are among the politicians whose fate shall be decided.
In 2013, the saffron party surged to power for a third successive time by emerging victorious in 165 constituencies whereas the Congress was restricted to 58. The Congress had ruled for a decade from 1993.(UNI)