Ahmedabad, Dec 22: Gujarat on Saturday waited with bated breath with counting of votes in the fiercely contested Assembly elections to be taken up tomorrow and the first result is expected to be out by 10 AM.
As political parties kept their fingers crossed for the outcome which may alter the political landscape in the country, rival parties--Congress and BJP--were confident of victories and Chief Minister Narendra Modi waited to see whether he will be second time lucky at the hustings.
Exit polls by TV channels projected that Modi will return to power but with a reduced majority.A hung assembly was also not being ruled out. In the outgoing 182-member House, BJP and Congress had 127 seats and 51 respectively.
The Election Commission has set up 37 counting stations throughout the state to tally votes polled in electronic voting machines in the two-phased elections.
The counting will commence at 8 AM with Congress and BJP locked in a virtual straight fight. Gujarat polls have for the first time attracted countrywide attention with Modi acquiring a larger than life image during the acrimonious poll campaign which saw him involved in a slugfest with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The EC officials said all arrangements regarding the counting of votes have been completed. "About, 8,000 staff will be involved in the process but they will come to know on which counting table they are stationed on the morning of the counting day," state EC official A H Manek said.
"Every table will have a central government officer as an observer. After completion of each round of counting the observers will randomly select two EVMs and recheck the votes polled for party on those EVMs," Manek said.
The EC has developed a special software this time by which the data will be fed from the counting centres to the official website of the EC for public viewing, Manek said.