10:00 am: The picture gets rosier for Amma in TN. All she needs is for the trend in the leads to hold and she will romp home the big winner in these elections, along with West Bengal’s own Didi of course.
9:50 am: As we await Mamata’s historic win in Bengal, an interesting election tidbit from there:
One of the earliest elections in South Asia brought to power Gopala, a military commander, who was elected the first Buddhist king of Bengal in the eighth century – in 750 AD in Gaur (now in the Malda district in Bengal) to be precise according to a famous Buddhist historian Taranatha (1575-1634).
Gopala was the founder of the famous Pala empire of yore.
9:40 am: For all of you who were missing tables on this page, here goes our first one. In TN, Amma has reasons to cheer, folks, and here is why:
9:30 am: An interesting Tamil Nadu factoid: The first assembly elections involving Tamil Nadu (in the Madras State as it was known then) threw up a hung assembly.
The Congress party, the leading party in the state then, could only win 152 of the 375 seats.
They were forced to turn to that towering figure in Indian politics, C Rajagopalachari (who later refused to stand for a by-election and had to be nominated by the governor).
The wily legend managed to lure back T Prakasam, a key figure, and engineer a series of re-alignments of the various political parties and the independents. When the vote of confidence came, Rajaji won it by 200 votes to 151. Click here for the latest party position
9:23 am: We are not calling Tamil Nadu yet. But ADMK and allies are pulling ahead at the moment, with early leads putting them ahead in 47 out of the 70 seats.
9:20 am: The Bengal elections it is safe to say is in TMC’s bag. Mamata and her allies are ahead in 112 seats, with the Left heading for a rout with just 49 seats against their name.
9:14 am: Assam seems headed the Congress way. Tarun Gogoi looks set to lead his party to a third term in power if early leads are indications. Congress and allies are ahead in 21 out of the 26 seats for which data is in. The Asom Gana Parishad its closest competitor is leading in only three seats. Click here for the latest party positions in all the states
9:03 am: Tamil Nadu is another state where a close fight might be in the offing. Early leads have the ADMK and allies ahead in six seats and DMK and allies ahead in four.Click here for the latest party positions in all the states
8:58 am: 20-7 for the TMC now. Let us reiterate that these are only leads. But the trend seems to point to a Left rout in West Bengal and an end to their 34-year-long stint in power.
A brief pen-sketch of Mamata, the Chief Minister to be: The 56-year-old single woman lives with her mother. The Lok Sabha lists her permanent address as 30-B, Harish Chatterjee Street,Kolkata-700 026 West BengalTels. (033) 24753000.
The daughter of a teacher, she holds a MA, BEd and LLB, and also was trained in work education.
She is known for her fiery temper and frugal lifestyle.
A battle-hardened poll veteran, she certainly is. CPM acolytes famously fractured her skull leaving her hospitalised for many months. As she told Jim Yardley of the New York Times, “They have attacked me many times. From my belly to my back to my eyes, I’m covered in these things (scars).’
8:49 am: Early indications are that Kerala is in for a keen fight. It is a dead heat there with both the UDF and the LDF leading in 58 constituencies each. The two biggies CPI (M) and the Congress have fielded 84 and 81 candidates in the fray respectively. Either of the fronts will need a 71-seat tally to gain a clear majority in the 140-seat assembly. Click here for the latest party positions
8:43 am: TMC and allies have begun to pull ahead in West Bengal. Mamata’s combine is now ahead in 10 out of the 15 constituencies for which leads are in. Mamata spent Thursday working on her paintings. Preparations for a huge victory celebration were also underway at her residence with loudspeakers and the rest of the paraphernalia already assembled. Click here for the latest party positions.
8:40 am: The action is hotting up in Kerala. Now it is neck and neck with both the UDF and the LDF leading in 40 constituencies each.
8: 29 am: It is 36-27 in favour of the UDF (the Congress Front) in Kerala now. Left Front are leading in two constituencies in West Bengal. DMK continues to be ahead in the only seat for which leads are available in Tamil Nadu.
8:22 am: More leads from Kerala. The tally is 25 for UDF and 17 for LDF. DMK is leading in the only seat for which data is available at the moment from TN.
8.10 am: First leads pour in from Kerala. Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan leads in Malampuzha for over 1000 votes. Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan leading in Thalassery with over 3000 votes. UDF is leading in five seats.
8 am: The six-week wait for who will rule Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Assam and West Bengal ends today. Counting of votes for Assembly elections began at 8 am in 839 halls spread over in the five states involving 43,982 personnel.
Ahead of counting
It has been one of the biggest elections in recent times.
Big because Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the two most important states among the five awaiting the verdicts on Friday, have recorded their highest polling percentages in 60 years.
Big because all analysts are predicting a win (at long last) for Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance, who they say will sweep the ruling Left Front out of power for the first time in 34 years.
And big, well, because when over 215 million people get together to decide their future, you can’t call the event anything but big…
Some interesting facts from the polling data shared by the election commission ahead of the results.
Home is where their heart is
For the first time 4,639 overseas voters, out of the 8,820 who had registered, exercised their franchise in the Kerala elections.
Women yet again turned out to be more eager voters than men.
“I am very happy to tell you like Bihar, women turned out in larger number than men in Kerala, Puducherry, West Bengal and (in) almost equal (numbers) in Tamil Nadu,” Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi revealed in New Delhi.
And when it came to the actual percentages, it was not just Tamil Nadu and West Bengal that recorded high numbers.
They were in the high seventies and above throughout - with Tamil Nadu recording 78.8%, West Bengal 84.46%, Kerala 75.12%, Puducherry 85.57% and Assam 76.04%.
The Election Commission revealed that over Rs 74.27 crore in unaccounted money had been seized during the elections.
Tamil Nadu led the way with over Rs 60.1 crore being recovered from the state.
In Assam, Rs 5.20 crore was seized.
Raids in West Bengal yielded Rs 8.35 crore and those in Kerala Rs 62 lakh.
Eleven cases of ‘paid news’ were also being investigated by the commission.
The actual counting
The Chief Election Commissioner has said that the vote counting will take place in 839 halls – 234 of them in Tamil Nadu, 312 in West Bengal, 142 in Assam, 140 in Kerala, and 11 in Puducherry.
An elaborate three-tier security cordon has been put in place for the counting, set to begin at 8 am.
43,982 officials and nearly 17,700 central security personnel will be involved in the process.
Exit Poll predictions: Here is how the various exit polls called the elections