Raipur: Counting for the Chhattisgarh Assembly polls 2018 has begun at 8 am on Tuesday. Tight security arrangements have been made at the counting centres in all 27 districts, particularly the Naxal-affected ones, where voting was held in two phases on November 12 and 20 to elect a new 90-member Assembly.
This year, the election is being viewed as a prestige battle for three-term Chief Minister Raman Singh of the BJP while the opposition Congress' fight for resurgence. The state, which has been dominated by BJP and Congress so far, is witnessing a coalition among Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), former chief minister Ajit Jogi's Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) and Communist Party of India (CPI).
Despite a boycott call by the Communist Party of India (Maoist), Chhattisgarh recorded an overall turnout of 76.60 per cent in the two-phased assembly elections.
As many as 5,184 counting personnel and 1,500 micro-observers have been appointed for smooth conduct of the process, an official said. In every counting hall, 14 tables will be arranged in rows of seven tables each, apart from separate tables for the returning officer and for counting of postal ballots, he added.
The fate of 1,079 contestants, including the chief minister, his 11 ministers and state presidents of the BJP and the Congress will be decided by the end of the day. While most of the exit polls have predicted a close fight between BJP and Congress, some of the agencies have given a slight edge to the Congress party.
In the 2013 elections, the BJP won 49 seats, the Congress 39, while one seat each was bagged by the BSP and an Independent. The assembly elections this year are being seen as crucial for the BJP before the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. BJP is in power in three of states - Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan - where counting is taking place on Tuesday.