All arrangements are in place for counting of votes on Sunday in tune with COVID-19 guidelines for Assembly polls held on April 6 in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry as political parties await results anxiously.
In Kerala, as many as 957 candidates, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, 11 of his cabinet colleagues, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, Senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy, BJP state chief K Surendran, ''Metroman'' E Sreedharan, and former Union minister, KJ Alphons among others were in fray for the 140 assembly seats.
Though all the exit polls and pre poll surveys had predicted a massive win for the ruling front, the opposition UDF has not given up hope.
In Tamil Nadu, though there were four fronts including actor-politician Kamal Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam led combine, the key contest was between the ruling AIADMK and main opposition DMK, which exit polls have predicted that would wrest the reins of power.
There were nearly 4,000 candidates in the fray including Chief Minister K Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, DMK president MK Stalin, his son and party youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin, AIADMK's rival and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam chief TTV Dhinakaran, MNM's Haasan and BJP state unit chief L Murugan were among the prominent candidates.
Polls were held to 234 Assembly constituencies and byelection to the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat, where Congress party's Vijay Vasanth and BJP's Pon Radhakrishnan are the key candidates.
In the union territory of Puducherry, the former Chief Minister N Rangaswamy led All India NR Congress-BJP alliance and Congress-DMK combine are the key contenders for power.
Exit polls have predicted a win for the front led by Rangaswamy. As many as 1,382 personnel would be deployed for counting of votes in the whole of the UT while about 400 police personnel shall be on security duties.
The counting of postal ballots is set to begin at 8 am on Sunday after which the votes polled in the Electronic Voting Machines are expected to be taken up half an hour later.
In Kerala, of the 633 halls in 114 counting centres, 527 will be earmarked for tabulating EVM votes while the remaining 106 will be for counting postal votes, Chief Electoral Officer, Teeka Ram Meena said.
In Tamil Nadu, there are 75 counting centres spread across the state and all arrangements are in place to smoothly conduct the exercise, authorities said.
Cumulatively, there would be 3,372 EVM tables and depending on the constituency and votes polled, counting of votes is expected to range anywhere from 13 to 43 rounds in each of the 234 segments. Authorities said the counting of votes would be in strict adherence to the EC guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus which includes RT-PCR testing for agents.