The result of month-long efforts after campaigning by the political leaders for assembly elections of Manipur is just a few hours away, as counting of votes in the state will be taken up at 8 am on Saturday for which 11 counting centres have been set up. The counting will begin amid tight security of para-military forces. The state was a part of 2017 assembly polls held in five states including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand. It went to voting in two phases on March 4 and March 8. A day ahead of the counting, Chief Electoral Officer V K Dewangan told reporters that results of Chandel, Jiribam, Senapati and Kangpokpi would take “minimal time”. However, he said that the result in the Thoubal constituency, where rights activist Irom Sharmila is pitted against Chief Minister O Ibobi Sing, is likely to take more time.
Talking about the security issues, Dewangan said that despite logistical difficulties due to the ongoing economic blockade and prevailing law and order situation, elections have been completed smoothly and showed confidence about peaceful counting as well. Central para-military forces were guarding the EVMs as prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC were imposed by the District magistrates near the perimeter of all counting halls, he said.
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Overall, counting will take place at 157 centres — Punjab (53), Goa (2), UP (75), Uttarakhand (15) and Manipur (12). Election Commission (EC) officials said the counting of votes will commence at 8am with trends expected to be available by 11am. By 12 noon, a final picture could emerge on who would be the major players in the five states. According to EC guidelines, half-an-hour after the postal ballots are counted, the process of counting of EVM votes begins. Once the results are declared, the names of the winning candidates will find mention in the gazette. The gazette notification will initiate the process to form the next legislative assemblies in the states.