Political parties, their supporters and markets are anxiously waiting for the May 23 morning when the Election Commission of India will declare the results of the seven-phase Lok Sabha Elections, the world's biggest democratic exercise, bringing the curtains down on a bitterly-fought contest which the country rarely witnessed.
Most of the exit polls have predicted that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is on course to retain power for a second term, riding on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charisma like the way he swept to power in 2014.
However, the opposition parties have trashed results of the exit polls, claiming that the BJP will suffer severe drubbing due to rising unemployment, farm distress and slowdown in the economy.
The voting was staggered between April 11 and May 19 in which around 67 per cent of the nearly 900 million eligible people exercised their franchise to elect 542 members of the Lok Sabha from a total of 8,049 contestants.
Lok Sabha Election Results 2019 | Assembly Election Results 2019: When, where, how to watch counting of votes on May 23
Election Commission officials said the counting of votes for the Lok Sabha elections will begin at 8.00 am on Thursday and results are expected only by late evening.
The process of counting votes will take place in the presence of the Returning Officer of the individual constituencies and is likely to begin around 8 am.
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Not only will News Nation showcase minute-to-minute updates on the Lok Sabha elections 2019 results, it will also provide information regarding candidates, their status in the elections and other news.
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The entire exercise of EVM-paper trail machine matching will take an additional four to five hours, EC officials said. The opposition parties Tuesday raised concerns over reports of alleged tampering of EVMs and asked the Election Commission to ensure transparency in counting. In case of a mismatch, the results based on paper slip count will be considered as final.
In the 2014 elections, the BJP won 282 seats while the Congress had suffered a severe drubbing getting an all-time low of 44 seats as against 206 it won in 2009.
From 'chowkidar chor hai' and 'bhrashtachari no. 1' to 'khaki underwear', acerbic remarks ruled the roost this election season, making it one of the most bitterly-contested parliamentary polls post Independence.
For the first time in Lok Sabha polls, the EC will tally vote count on Electronic Voting Machines with voter verified paper audit trail slips in five polling stations in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency.
It will effectively mean that out of nearly 10.3 lakh polling stations, the EVM-VVPAT matching will take place in 20,600 such stations.
EC officials said the voting percentage of 67.11 this time was the highest ever-voter turnout in Indian parliamentary elections.
Out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the EC had cancelled polls to the Vellore constituency on the ground of excessive use of money power.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several union ministers, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav are among key leaders who contested the polls.
(With PTI inputs)