New Delhi, Mar 6 :
Counting of votes in the Assembly elections in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa, considered "mini general elections", will be taken up on Tuesday.
The counting will begin at 0800 hours and first results are expected in an hour or two and all the results by evening.
The results will decide the fate of candidates in a total of 690 assembly seats --- 403 in UP, 117 seats in Punjab, 70 in Uttarakhand, 60 in Manipur and 40 in Goa. The elections, which have taken place in the middle of the last Lok Sabha election in 2009 and the next in 2014 are being considered some sort of "semi final" for the UPA and NDA.
While the Congress facing one controversy after another is looking forward to salvage its image, the opposition combine treats it as an occasion to pitch for a larger claim in 2014.
Looking for some buffer amid pulls and pressures of a troubling ally Mamata Banerjee, Congress faces an uphill task in reviving its fortunes in Uttar Pradesh.
BJP's task is also daunting as it has to return to power in Uttarakhand, where corruption allegations against it appear to have tilted the balance in favour of Congress. NDA also has a tough task in retaining Punjab.
Rahul Gandhi had led the campaign in the Mayawati-ruled Uttar Pradesh from the front where Congress is contesting 357 seats in alliance with Ajit Singh's RLD in the 403-member Assembly.
The party had won only 22 seats in the 2007 assembly elections in the state but made a spectacular show in last Lok Sabha elections where it won 22 Parliamentary seats coming as a shock to Samajwadi Party, BSP and BJP.
The ruling BSP in UP has contested all 403 seats, SP 402, BJP 398 and RLD 46. Exit polls have predicted a hung assembly in the state with the SP showed as cornering the major chunk of seats.
In the last assembly election, the BSP had won 206 seats and got a majority on its own surprising political pundits. SP had got 97 seats, BJP 50 and RLD, which contested in alliance with BJP won 10 seats. Independents and others had got 17 seats.
The Congress, led by former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh is quite hopeful of wresting power from the BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal combine in Punjab amid indications that BJP's hold on urban areas had substantially gone down.
Congress is contesting all 117 seats here, while SAD 94 and BJP 23. In the last election SAD had won 50 seats, Congress 42, BJP 19 and independents 06.
BJP, which ruled Uttarakhand through a simple majority by winning 36 of 70 seats in last elections, faces a tough challenge this time.
It had to change its chief minister Ramesh Pokhariyal "Nishank" ahead of elections and replace him with BC Khanduri, who did not get sufficient time to salvage the dent.
BJP, Congress and BSP are contesting all the 70 seats here. Congress had won 20 seats in last elections and BSP 08. Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, which had won three seats in the last assembly election is contesting on 52 seats. Three seats had gone to independents in the last election.
Similarly in Manipur, Congress had got a simple majority in last assembly election winning 31 of the total 60 seats while Manipur People's Party had won five, NCP and CPI four each, National People's Party and Lalu Prasad's RJD three each. Independents had bagged a whopping 10 seats.
Congress chief minister Ibobi Singh, perhaps, faces the toughest election for his party this time but Congress is hopeful of a win in absence of a united Opposition. Exit polls suggest Congress is retaining the state.
Goa in which Congress has its government headed by Digambar Kamat is a state where post poll formulations matter as much as the poll itself.
Congress looks poised for a pitched battle with BJP. Both the Congress and the BJP have entered into alliances ---Congress with the NCP and BJP with the MGP.
Illegal mining an issue but locally it did not become a poll issue as the syndrome allegedly afflicts both parties.
Congress had won 16 seats, BJP 14, NCP 03, and MGP, SGF and UGDP and independents 02 each. This time also it is expected to be a photo finish between the two alliances.