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EC focus shifts on peaceful counting

Patna, May 13: Polls over peacefully in the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state, the Election Commission of India has shifted its focus on counting under tight security on May 16.

Two companies of central paramilitary forces (one company comprises around 100 personnel) have been deployed for the round-the-clock surveillance of each strongroom in which electronic voting machines (EVMs) have been kept. In addition, the personnel of the District Armed Police (DAP) would be deployed for the outer security of the 40 counting centres in the state.

The state’s chief electoral officer, Ajay V. Naik, today reviewed the arrangements for the counting of votes through video conferencing with the returning officers and police. The additional chief electoral officer, R. Laxmanan, said over 15,600 personnel would be engaged in the counting of votes. Besides, returning officers, assistant returning officers and micro observers have been instructed to ensure all the counting-related works were carried out according to the Election Commission of India’s guidelines.

Around 4,331 micro observers have been drafted in to oversee the counting-related works at the 40 counting centres. The counting would start at 8am at each centre.

Laxmanan said the counting would be conducted in the presence of general observers, assistant returning officers and political agents (of candidates). The returning officers have been asked to co-operate with the assistant returning officers for the transportation of EVMs from the strongrooms to the counting halls and tabulation staff for the round-wise evaluation of counting statistics in addition to the counting supervisors and the counting assistants, he added.

Internet facility would be provided to every assistant returning officer. The process of counting would start with postal ballots. Thereafter, EVMs would be opened.

The state election department has issued instructions to keep a tab on the celebrations by the supporters of the winning candidates. “The police headquarters has been asked to maintain the law and order during the celebrations. At every counting centre, a data unit has been set up to relay the information in real time to the Election Commission of India,” a senior official of the election department told The Telegraph.

The administration has initiated some additional security measures for the counting of votes in the Naxalite-hit districts. Additional director-general (headquarters) Ravinder Kumar said tight security measures had been initiated in those places.

He said a three-layer security has been arranged at each counting centre. More than 10,000 security personnel would be on duty to ensure smooth conduct of vote counting.

He said the district police heads were in touch with the returning officers of the constituencies concerned and a detailed plan for the inside and the outside security of the counting halls has been chalked out. The officials of the local police stations have been asked to co-operate with the counting personnel.

The elections for the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar were held in six phases on April 10, 17, 25, 30 and May 7 and May 12. The fate of several top political party leaders, including former Union ministers Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD), Syed Shahnawaz Hussain (BJP), A.A. Fatmi (RJD), Md Taslimuddin (RJD), Kanti Singh (RJD), Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar (Congress) and former Governor Nikhil Kumar (Congress), would be decided on Friday.