Counting of votes for elections to 26 Lok Sabha constituencies and bypolls in four Assembly seats of Gujarat began at 8 am on Thursday at 28 centres, an election official said. Over 8,000 polling staff has been deployed at the counting centres, the official said.
Election authorities said declaration of results may get delayed by around three to four hours due to counting of voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips.
VVPAT slips of five randomly selected Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will be counted in every Assembly segment after EVM votes are counted, state's Chief Electoral Officer S Murali Krishna said.
Each of the 26 Lok Sabha seats has six to seven Assembly segments. If the slips and EVM data do not match, count of VVPAT slips will be taken into consideration, Krishna said.
"Due to this exercise, declaration of final results may get delayed by around three to four hours...trends will be out by afternoon. Only formal declaration would get delayed. Final results may come late in the evening," he told PTI. Polling was held in a single phase on April 23, recording a turnout of 64.11 per cent, the highest in the state since 1976 when there was around 63.77 voting.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani expressed confidence that the BJP will retain all the 26 seats in the state.
"There is a Modi 'wave', people of the state are enthusiastic to make Modi prime minister again. The results are certain," Rupani told reporters in Gandhinagar.
However, Gujarat Congress chief Amit Chavda claimed his party will win at least 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
"The results of Gujarat will surprise all," he said. In the 2017 state Assembly polls to 182 seats, the Congress won 77 seats while the BJP bagged 99 and retained power with a slender majority.
The main contenders from the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls this time are party chief Amit Shah (from Gandhinagar seat) and Union minister Jaswantsinh Bhabhor (Dahod). The Congress fielded former Union minister Bharatsinh Solanki from Anand seat and its leader of opposition in the Assembly Paresh Dhanani from Amreli seat.