NEW DELHI: Counting of votes for the Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, seen as the first major test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity after the Lok Sabha polls, will be held on Sunday.
The vote counting for the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly and 90-member Haryana Assembly will start at 8 AM in the two states which went to polls on October 15.
Haryana recorded its highest-ever turnout of 76.54 per cent while Maharashtra recorded 63.13 per cent polling.
Exit polls have projected that the BJP will emerge as the largest party in both Maharashtra and Haryana stopping short of majority.
Counting will be held across 288 counting centres at 269 locations in Maharashtra. Trends are expected to be available around noon and final results will begin pouring in around 3 PM.
Altogether, 63.13 per cent voters cast their vote in the Assembly polls. Polling was also held for the Beed Lok Sabha bypoll on October 15. Counting for it will also be taken up on Sunday.
BJP fielded 280, BSP 260, CPI 34, CPM 19, Congress 287, NCP 278, Shiv Sena 282 and MNS had fielded 219.
A total of 4119 candidates contested the poll. Of the 288 constituencies, including 36 constituencies in Mumbai, 234 are general, 29 reserved for scheduled castes and 25 for scheduled tribes.
In Haryana, the fate of the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government, which is aiming at a third successive term, and BJP, which is eyeing to form a government on its own, would be known tomorrow.
The state had created history by clocking an all-time high polling of about 76.54 per cent, surpassing maximum of 72.65 per cent in 1967 in the high-stakes battle among top contenders Congress, BJP and INLD in a multi-cornered contest.
The fate of 1351 candidates, including 116 women - the highest number since the formation of the state in 1966, was sealed during the single day polling.
Unlike in the recent past, when the fight was mainly between Congress and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), a number of new players have thrown their hats in the ring this time.
The ruling Congress is eyeing a win for the third time in a row, mainly banking on the development card while main opposition INLD is seeking to return to power after a decade of hiatus, banking on the charisma of its President Om Prakash Chautala and consolidation of the Jat vote.
Haryana Chief Electoral Officer Shrikant Walgad said counting of votes for the Assembly polls will be held at 90 counting centers, set up at 57 places in the state.
"First of all counting of ballot papers would be carried out and the final results of elections are expected to come by late afternoon or evening," he said.
Trends would be available soon after counting starts at 8 AM.
The key aspirants whose fate would be decided include top guns like Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Randeep Surjewala (Cong), former Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala's son Abhay, daughter-in-law Naina and grandson Dushyant (INLD), former Union Minister Venod Sharma and his wife Shakti Rani (HJCP-V),former MP Kuldeep Bishnoi, his wife Renuka and elder brother former Deputy Chief Minister Chander Mohan (HJC-BL).
Other candidates in the fray include Haryana BJP President Ram Bilas Sharma and Abhimanyu (BJP), Arvind Sharma (BSP) and Gopal Kanda (HLP), who was booked in the Geetika Sharma suicide case.
Bansi Lal's son and former BCCI President Ranbir Singh Mahendra, daughter-in-law (late Surender Singh's wife) and Haryana Minister Kiran Chaudhary and Lal's son-in-law Sombir Singh are contesting as Congress candidates from Badhra, Tosham and Loharu segments in the Bhiwani district.
Walgad said candidates of Congress and BJP contested elections from all 90 Assembly constituencies of the state whereas 88 candidates of INLD, 87 of BSP, 65 of HJC, 17 of CPM, 14 of CPI and 297 of Registered Parties including two candidates of the SAD and 603 Independent Candidates also contested.
During the 2009 Assembly elections, Congress had won 40 seats, INLD 31, BJP four, HJC-BL six, SAD and BSP one each and Independents seven.
Congress had failed to get the required majority of 45 in the 2009 Assembly polls, but Bhupinder Singh Hooda managed to form the government after five Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) MLAs deserted their party and merged with the Congress, which also got the support of seven Independents and a lone BSP member.