New Delhi | Jagran Politics Desk: The counting of votes for the assembly election results of four states -- West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam -- and union territory (UT) of Puducherry will be conducted by the election commission (EC) on Sunday amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in the country.

The counting of votes will begin at 8 am and continue till late-night at 2,364 centres across 822 assembly constituencies as per the guidelines issued by the EC to check the spread of the contagious COVID-19. In 2016, counting was held in 1,002 halls. However, there has been an increase of 200 per cent in counting halls this year because of the COVID-19 crisis.

"EC has designated 822 ROs and more than 7,000 AROs for the purposes of counting in these five states and one UT. Approximately 95,000 counting officials including micro observers will perform the task of counting," the EC said in a statement.

The assembly elections in four states and UT of Puducherry are important for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is seeking to consolidate its hold over more states while the Congress, which now depends on its allies, is trying to regain lost turf.

The exit polls have predicted a tough competition between the BJP and Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) in all important West Bengal. Notably, both the BJP and TMC have claimed that they will win the polls.

If the BJP manages to win West Bengal, then it will change the political spectrum in the easter part of the country where the saffron party is trying to consolidate its hold. Here it is noteworthy to mention that the BJP had managed to win just three seats in the 2016 Bengal polls. However, it made a strong comeback in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when it emerged victorious on 18 of 42 parliamentary seats.

Meanwhile, the exit polls have predicted that the DMK-Congress alliance will trounce the AIADMK-BJP coalition. It has also predicted a BJP win in Assam and Puducherry and claimed that the Left alliance will retain Kerala, a feat unseen in four decades.

Polling was held in eight phases in West Bengal between March 27 and April 29, in Assam in three stages on March 27, April 1 and 6, while votes were cast in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry in a single phase on April 6, when the COVID surge had begun in many of the states.

Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are among the 11 states that account for 78.22 per cent of the total active cases, according to the Health ministry.

The counting will also be held in four Lok Sabha seats and 13 assembly seats across 13 states where by-polls were held.

The EC has banned victory roadshows and vehicle rallies.

India's daily coronavirus tally crossed the grim milestone of four lakh on Saturday, while the death toll rose to 2.11 lakh with 3,523 fresh fatalities. The infection tally rose to 1.91 crore with 4.01 lakh new cases, while the active cases crossed the 32-lakh mark.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma