NEW DELHI, March 10 - Counting of votes in Assembly polls in five states will take place tomorrow amid tight security with the most riveting contest in Uttar Pradesh, seen as a gamechanger and a virtual referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s popularity and his reforms agenda.
The Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh is hoping to stop the BJP juggernaut, which had earlier stumbled in Bihar and Delhi, and lead the way for opposition unity in the run-up to the 2019 general election.
The Congress is claiming it will wrest power in Punjab and retain its hold in Uttarakhand and Manipur. The election is also important for the nascent Aam Aadmi Party, which is hoping for success in its maiden outing in Assembly elections outside Delhi and has put up a spirited fight in Punjab and Goa.
Counting of votes will start at 8 am tomorrow. Tens of thousands of central forces personnel were being deployed at the polling centres, including 20,000 personnel in Uttar Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh, which has a 403-member Assembly, 78 counting centres have been set up in 75 districts. Fifteen counting centres have been established in Uttarakhand where the Assembly strength is 70.
Votes will be counted at 54 centers in 27 locations set up for election to 117-member Punjab Assembly. In Goa, votes will be counted at two centres in North and South Goa to declare the winners in 40 seats. In Manipur, counting of votes will be held for 60 seats.
The Election Commission has issued strict guidelines on security arrangements for counting of votes and has prohibited mobile phones inside the counting halls.
In addition to general observers, a micro-observer will be deputed at each and every counting table. A three-tier security arrangement has been made in and around the counting centres. � PTI