Counting of votes for the 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh got underway at 292 centres in 51 district headquarters on Thursday and the first results are expected by 10 pm, an election official said.
All eyes will be on the Bhopal Lok Sabha which seat saw a keen contest between Congress veteran Digvijay Singh and Malegaon blast case accused Pragya Singh Thakur.
Around 1,800 CCTV cameras have been installed at the counting centres where internet and wi-fi services will not be available, state Chief Electoral Officer V L Kantha Rao told reporters.
“The counting of votes began from 8 am. Given the number of candidates and counting rounds, the first result may start coming in by 10 pm,” he said.
After the end of counting, five randomly selected Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips from each Assembly segment of that particular Lok Sabha seat would be matched with the electronic voting machines (EVMs), he said.
The highest 29 rounds of counting will be held in Indore and the lowest 14 in Katni, he said.
Around 9,000 personnel, including 17 companies of central forces, have been deployed for the security of strong rooms in which the EVMs have been kept, Rao said.
Polling for the 29 seats in the central state was held in four phases on April 29 (six seats), May 6 (seven seats), May 12 (eight seats) and May 19 (eight seats).
In the 2014 parliamentary elections, the BJP bagged 27 of these seats while the Congress managed to win only two.
Later, the Congress increased its tally to three by winning the Ratlam seat by-election.
After wresting power from the BJP in the state after last year’s Assembly elections, the Congress is optimistic of a good show in the Lok Sabha polls.
The Guna and Chhindwara seats won by Congress leaders Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath, respectively, in 2014 were in limelight this time.
The Congress this time nominated Nakul Nath from Chhindwara after his father and sitting MP Kamal Nath became the state’s chief minister.
Other prominent faces in this election were BJP state president Rakesh Singh (from Jabalpur), party leader Prahlad Patel (Damoh), Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar (Morena), ex-Union ministers and Congress nominees Kantilal Bhuria (Ratlam-Jhabua), Arun Yadav (Khandwa), and former leader of opposition Ajay Singh (Sidhi).