Assembly polls 2021: Under Covid shadow, counting of votes in four states, Pondy today

Last Updated: Sunday, 2 May 2021 (09:04 IST)
New Delhi: Counting of votes for Assembly elections in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam and the Union Territory of Puducherry and bypolls to two Lok Sabha constituencies and 18 Assembly seats, began at 0800 hrs of Sunday amid strict COVID-19 protocols in place.

With the country battling the virulent second wave of Covid-19, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued a notice of allowing no candidates or agents inside the counting hall without undergoing RT-PCR/RAT test or having two doses of vaccination against Covid-19.
The ECI has also banned public gatherings outside the counting venue and all victory processions and restricted the number of people accompanying winning candidates to collect their certificate of election from the Returning Officer to two.
The exit polls have predicted a clean sweep for the DMK-led alliance in Tamil Nadu, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Assam and Puducherry. However, in West Bengal, a close race between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP has been predicted by several pollsters.
The counting trends are available on the ECI’s official website and “Voter helpline” Mobile App.
The elections were held between March 27 and April 29. West Bengal (294 seats) went for polls in eight phases. However, polling on two seats was postponed due to the death of candidates. Voting for Assam (126) was held in three phases while in Tamil Nadu (234), Kerala (140) and Puducherry (30), the polling was conducted in a single-phase.
By-elections were held for Andhra Pradesh’s Tirupati (SC) Parliamentary constituency and Morva Hadaf Assembly Constituency, Jharkhand’s Madhupur Assembly seat, Belgaum Basavakalyan Lok Sabah seat and Maski (ST) Assembly seat and Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh Assembly seat.
The bypolls were also conducted for Maharashtra’s Pandharpur Assembly seat, Mizoram’s Serchhi Assembly seat, Nagaland Noksen Assembly Constituency, Odisha’s Pipili Assembly seat, Rajasthan’s- Sujangarh [SC], Rajsamand and Sahara Assembly Constituency, Telangana’s Nagarjuna Sagar Assembly Constituency and Uttarakhand’s Salt Assembly Constituency.
The ECI has received brickbats from opposition parties, Madras and Calcutta High Court and many others for failing to take action against political leaders and parties for flaunting Covid guidelines and conducting mass rallies, gatherings and roadshows.
The poll body was also criticised for continuing with voting despite the second wave of Covid-19 spreading like fire in the later half of April.
The voting in West Bengal was marred with violence with several people losing their lives. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and BJP Bengal president Dilip Ghosh and many others leaders were barred from campaigning for some days for violating the Model Code of Conduct.
In other states, voting remained almost peaceful. (UNI)