NEW DELHI: The guessing game is over, it’s time for the real thing. Who will rule the country for the next five years will be known on Thursday, as Electronic Voting Machines are counted amid opposition fears of ballot tampering.
Both the ruling NDA coalition and the opposition are keeping their fingers crossed. And worried opposition parties have already asked their cadre to maintain a vigil outside EVM strongrooms and react quickly if they find anything out of place.
With so much at stake in the bitterly fought Lok Sabha elections, the Union Home Ministry has alerted all states and Union Territories to factor in the possibility of violence on Thursday.
Pointing to the calls issued by various quarters to incite violence, the ministry advised them to take all possible steps needed to maintain peace and law and order. About two lakh Central forces and 20 lakh state forces have already been deployed across India.
The Trinamool in West Bengal and the SP-BSP-RLD alliance in Uttar Pradesh have issued comprehensive lists of dos and don’ts to party workers. Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee has even instructed workers not to accept even food or water from rival polling agents lest they be laced with sedatives.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav asked workers to ensure that numbers on EVMs are tallied with votes polled and counted.
As for BSP boss Mayawati, she ordered eight-hour shifts for counting agents at each centre with lawyers in tow to deal with disputes.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra advised her party workers not to be distracted by possible diversionary tactics employed by rivals while counting is on.
The MHA took particular note of a call by RLSP chief Upendra Kumar Kushwaha, a Bihar mahagathbandhan ally, who asked workers to ensure safety of EVMs even if it needs be with guns in hand.
“There is a lot of resentment over EVMs among mahagathbandhan followers. There will be bloodshed on the streets if they are tampered with,” was his ominous warning.
“The MHA has alerted state chief secretaries and DGPs regarding the possibility of violence in various states during counting tomorrow,” an official said.
He said security agencies have been briefed on organisations and individuals who have issued irresponsible statements, which may lead to violence, particularly in UP, West Bengal, Bihar and Tripura.
Final results to be delayed
Though trends will be available early as usual, the final results will be delayed by nearly three hours because of the tallying of VVPAT slips with EVM votes in five polling booths in any one Assembly segment in a Lok Sabha constituency