New Delhi: The Election Commission is all set to count Friday some 550 million votes cast in the Lok Sabha polls that are widely expected to return the BJP to power, a top official said Thursday.
"We are fully prepared and geared up for the counting day tomorrow... There is absolutely no problem," Election Commissioner H.S. Brahma told IANS.
He said all data accruing from the nationwide counting process would be updated on the poll panel's web site after every five minutes.
Around 66 percent of the 814 million electorate voted between April 7 and May 12 across the country to pick a new 543-member Lok Sabha.
Exit polls at the end of the staggered election have predicted a win for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Counting at 989 centres across the country will begin at 8 a.m. Friday, an official statement said.
A total of 8,251 candidates, including 668 women and five transgenders, contested the Lok Sabha battle. The contestants included 3,234 independents.
Friday's results will determine the political fortunes of India's virtual who is who, including BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi (Vadodara, Varanasi), Congress leaders including Sonia Gandhi (Rae Bareli), Rahul Gandhi (Amethi), SP leader Mulayam Singh (Mainpuri, Azamgarh), JD-U leader Sharad Yadav (Madhepura), BJP leaders Arun Jaitley (Amritsar), Rajnath Singh (Lucknow), and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal (Varanasi).
Although the vote count would start at 8, about one million officials drawn from the central and state governments would assemble at the counting centres much before that.
"All those involved in the counting have been told to report by 5 in the morning tomorrow (Friday)," another Election Commission official said.
"They will have to come without their mobile phones, and none of them will be allowed to leave until the entire process gets over," the official told IANS.
Initial trends will be available rapidly. The final tally in the Lok Sabha will be more or less clear by midday.
But most results will be known only by evening, one official said.
As polling ended in various constituencies spread over 10 rounds, the 1.72 million electronic voting machines (EVMs) were put in strongrooms across the country and placed under heavy security.
Tens of thousands of police and paramilitary personnel are to oversee the counting process Friday.
Brahma expressed appreciation over the huge voter turnout in what is the world's largest electoral exercise.
"We are grateful and thankful to the voters for turning up in such large numbers," Brahma told IANS.
"We are extremely happy that such a high voter turnout was registered this time," he said.
Most tweeted politicos
Narendra Modi: 11.1 million
Rahul Gandhi: 1.3 million
Arvind Kejriwal: 5 million
Aam Aadmi Party: 8.2 million
BJP: 6 million
Congress: 2.7 million
A total of 56 million tweets have been sent out for 2014 polls, with the total “reach” (including tweets, RTs and quotes) standing at 267 billion
1.72mn No of EVMs to be deployed for the exercise
Modi will be strong leader: Astrologers
BJP supporters in Ahmedabad perform ‘aarti’ for NDA’s victory. Astrologers have predicted that Narendra Modi is sure to head a new government at the Centre for the next five years, and while he’ll be a strong leader, he could face some turbulence.
BJP’s Narendra Modi is a clear favourite of the bookies for PM, who anticipate that the Congress may be reduced to a double-digit presence in Parliament, partly due to the anti-incumbency factor.
According to sources, an estimated betting worth over Rs 12,000 crore has taken place in Mumbai, New Delhi, Ahmedabad as well as in Pakistan and Dubai where the elections are keenly watched by expatriates. However, betting is illegal in India and security agencies are closely monitoring the developments.
In any case, the odds are:
Narendra Modi: 2 paise
Priyanka Vadra Gandhi: Rs 1
Rahul Gandhi: Rs 35
Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee: Rs 45-55
Arvind Kejriwal: Rs 60
The number of candidates in the fray for 2014 LS polls
The number of counting centres across country
The highest-ever turnout in the history of our general elections
The total number of voters who were eligible this time
The number of voters who turned out to cast the ballot
The total number of EVMs to be used in Delhi