With the exit polls predicting a stiff fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, the counting of votes began on Tuesday amid tight security.Early trends suggested that the Congress and the BJP were neck and neck in the battle to gain power in the 230-seat Assembly.
The counting of votes for the November 28 polls was underway at 51 centres from 8 am after the strongroom housing the EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) were opened in the presence of high security.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is aiming to retain power in the state for the fourth consecutive time. He expressed confidence of the BJP winning the election and suggested that the Congress would be wise to not celebrate too early. Early trends also showed Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is leading from his constituency in Budhni against Congress leader Arun Yadav.
Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Akhilesh Yadavâ€™s Samajwadi Party (SP) are also in the fray. The BJP fielded candidates in all 230 seats while Congress contested 229, leaving one seat in Jatara in Tikamgarh district for the Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) led by Sharad Yadav.
In the 2013 polls, the BJP gained 165 seats while Congress and BSP won in 58 and 4 constituencies respectively. Three seats were won by independent candidates.
The Congress in its bid to usurp power from the BJP appointed party veteran Kamal Nath as the Madhya Pradesh party chief in April this year. He, alongside campaign leader Jyotiraditya Scindia chalked out the party's strategy in the state Assembly elections. Kamal Nath has exuded confidence by claiming that Congress will win 140 seats in the election and form the government in the state.