Exercise restraint, says BJP

The Opposition Congress has asked its candidates and cadre to be proactive in detecting possible malpractices during counting of votes on Sunday. The party general secretary, Mohan Prakash, said on Saturday that party persons had been instructed to prevent a “repeat” of the alleged malpractices in 2008, which cost the Congress seats. “We will watch officials who colluded with the BJP during the polls and those who we suspect will interfere with the people’s mandate,” he said.

The Congress had asked the Election Commission to keep District Collectors with “suspicious track records” out of counting centres. It had also demanded the cancellation of about 65,000 postal ballots that had not yet been registered. The Commission, Mr. Prakash said, had been requested to disregard the ballots in the electronic voting machines which malfunctioned during the polling. “Our candidates and workers will be present at every polling centre. The process will be monitored from our Delhi and Bhopal offices. Suspicious activity will be reported to officials.” BJP State president Narendra Tomar said that while differences may persist on exit polls, condemning them is bad for democracy. “I want to tell the Congress to exercise restraint and maintain the decorum senior leaders are expected to.” He expected the BJP to do better than 2008 when it won 143 out of the 230 seats.

“The BSP has exploited caste aggregations in the districts bordering Uttar Pradesh and it may be successful there. But Madhya Pradesh is not a casteist State and the BSP can never play a larger role,” he added. Sources say both the Congress and the BJP are in touch with the BSP and may approach it in the event of a hung Assembly.

BJP workers have been asked to keep celebrations low key if the party wins the election, as its member and former Minister Ramhit Gupta died in Satna on Saturday. Gupta was the Madhya Pradesh president of the BJP’s predecessor, Bharatiya Jan Sangh. He served as MLA and Minister many times.

About 20,000 officials will be involved in counting the votes for 230 seats. Postal ballots will be counted first. Trends are expected to be clear after 11 a.m.