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UPA ahead in 247 seats, NDA in 155 in early trends
New Delhi, May 16:
The ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was leading in 247 constituencies and the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 155 in early trends as counting of votes in the Lok Sabha elections progressed across the country today.
The Left parties and the others in the Third Front were leading in 76 seats while the Fourth Front, comprising three allies of the UPA---Samajwadi Party (SP), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (EJD) and the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP)---was leading in 30.
Others were ahead in 33 constituencies as counting trends were available from 541 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats.
The counting of votes began this morning at 0800 hours and all the results are expected to be out by late afternoon or early evening, bringing the month-long electoral exercise to an end.
The trends, if they hold, showed that the UPA and the Fourth Front together had more than the 272 seats needed for reaching the half-way mark in the Lower House of Parliament.
While BJP spokespersons downplayed the figures, preferring to wait for the final results,they did admit the trends were disappointing. BJP President said the trends were unexpected but declined to say anything further till the results were out.
Workers of the Congress were, meanwhile, already celebrating outside the party headquarters in Delhi as well as in other cities.
The Congress seemed set for a clean sweep of all the seven seats in Delhi and had done much better than generally expected in states such as Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress and the Congress were heading for major gains. For the Left, the losses in West Bengal are coming on top of setbacks in Kerala, where the Congress was racing ahead. In Tamil Nadu, the DMK seemed to be outperforming the AIADMK. The Samajwadi Party appeared to be heading to become the single largest party in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress has already said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would head the UPA government again if the alliance is voted in for a second term. Dr Singh will be creating a record of sorts by becoming the first Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to win a second innings in office after completing a full five-year term.
About 59 per cent of the 714 million voters had cast their votes in five phases of polling between April 16 and May 13.
The counting is taking place at 1080 counting centres across the country. About 60,000 people have been deployed by the Election Commission for the task.
The counting is being witnessed by micro-observers deployed at every counting table by the Election Commission as well as by counting agents of the candidates.
Exit polls conducted by various media organisations have given the Congress and the UPA an edge over the opposition BJP and the NDA.
The Lok Sabha has 545 seats, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community who are nominated by the President.
The tenure of the present Lok Sabha will expire in the normal course on June 1 and a new House is required to be constituted before June 2, as per the constitutional provisions.
Counting of votes is also being conducted today in the elections to the state legislative assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim, which were held along with the Lok Sabha elections.
On the eve of the counting, there was hectic political activity in the national capital yesterday with leaders of all the political parties engaged in informal talks with partners and potential allies as the focus slowly shifted to the task of forming the next government.
The Election Commission has set up a website (http://eciresults.nic.in/) for displaying trends and results of the elections.
Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has made elaborate arrangements to receive and guide the newly-elected members of Parliament.
Among other things, guide posts are being set up at the airport and railway stations in Delhi so that they do not face any difficulties on arrival in the capital.
Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary said these guide posts would function from today until May 24.
Special facilities have also been set up in the Lok Sabha Secretariat to help the new members complete various formalities.
All India Radio has also made elaborate arrangements for broadcasting the election results tomorrow. Apart from special hourly bulletins, there will be special bilingual programmes in English and Hindi on trends, results, analysis and reactions as well as on the post-poll scenario.
These programmes will also be available live on the internet at http://webcast.gov.in/newsonair/index.html.
The Press Information Bureau will operate the Media Centres in its premises from 8.00 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. here and at its 40 regional and branch offices across the country tomorrow.
The Media Centres will have the provisions for television-sets and internet linked computers to provide the latest trends and updates on the election results for the visiting journalists. Press releases would be issued on the State Tallies and a National Tally after all the results are declared by the Election Commission.