Counting of votes for the 294 seats of West Bengal Assembly began today across 90 venues spread all over the state.
A team of 20,000 personnel from the state and central government has been deployed to count votes in 394 counting halls which are being guarded by 78 companies of central forces.
Elections in the state were held in six-phases beginning from April 4 with 1961 candidates including 198 women in the fray.
The alliance of Left parties and Congress are throwing a major challenge to the ruling Trinamool Congress government.
Despite being on the backfoot because of the Saradha chit fund scam and the Narada sting operation, several exit polls have predicted that Mamata Banerjee will return to power.
A tight three-tier security layer has been laid out during the counting process with Sec 144 being imposed on a 100 metre radius of counting venues. The innermost security layer is being manned by central forces and state polic personnel is not allowed to enter the counting hall.
Only authorised personnel are allowed to enter the venue while only the observers have been given the liberty to carry mobile phones with them. Each of the 294 constituencies has one counting observer to monitor the entire process.
Additionally, a videographer is also documenting the counting in all centres.
As per tradition, counting began with opening of the postal ballots and EVMs were opened immediately thereafter.
The Election Commission will declare trends at the end of each round of counting.
Since there has been lot of gap between polling and counting in the state, poll panel officials have made special arrangements for extra power packs as batteries of many EVMs may have been drained out during this period.
In the event of malfunctioning of EVMs, engineers from the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) will be called in to retrieve the result from auxiliary display unit of the EVM.
If the engineers fail to retrieve then a decision for further action will be taken by the commission.
Tomorrow, all central security forces will leave the state after keeping the EVMs back in the strong rooms.
Top officials of the Election Commission in Delhi will arrive in the evening today for completing formalities related to issuing certificates to the winning candidates.
Updated Date: May 19, 2016 09:14 AM