Counting of votes is underway for Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections 2018. In a few hours, trends from Madhya Pradesh will begin to reveal that which party is set to form the next government in Madhya Pradesh. The contest is a key battle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is aiming to retain power and the Congress which is trying to make a comeback in the state after a 15-year gap.
Exit polls have predicted a close race between the BJP and Congress but leaders from both parties have already claimed victories. Calling himself the "biggest surveyor", Chouhan has claimed a win for the BJP while senior Congress leader Kamal Nath asserted that his party would get at least 140 seats and oust the saffron party.
While Shivraj is BJP's CM candidate, the Congress has not declared its chief ministerial candidate. It has maintained that the party will take the decision after results of the elections are declared. However, party veterans Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia are being seen as strong contenders for the top post if Congress wins the state.
The BJP has fielded candidates on all seats and the Congress on 229 as it left one seat for Sharad Yadav's Loktantrik Janata Dal. The BSP put up 227 candidates while the SP 51. The Aam Aadmi Party, contesting the state election for the first time, fielded candidates on 208 seats. Also testing their electoral fortunes are 1,094 Independent candidates. The state went to polls on November 28 with a voter turnout of about 75 per cent. As many as 2,899 candidates are in fray for 230 seats.
Fifteen thousand employees have been drafted for the counting process which will be monitored through 1200 CCTV cameras installed at 51 centres across the state. Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer V L Kantha Rao said the maximum rounds of counting -- 32 in total -- would take place in the Indore-5 assembly segment due to the highest number of booths there. The lowest number of counting rounds (15) would be held in Kotma seat in Anuppur district.
The campaign for the polls was a high-decibel one with star campaigners like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi mounting vitriolic attacks in their respective speeches. The prime minister had addressed ten public meetings across all regions of the state while BJP president Amit Shah held 26 public meetings and three road shows.
Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, addressed 22 public rallies and took part in about a dozen road shows. State unit Congress president Kamal Nath addressed over 60 public meetings while Jyotiraditya Scindia addressed 110 public meetings and participated in 12 road shows in 15 days preceding polling.