Amid uncertainty over a single party getting a simple majority in the Punjab assembly and the possibility of a hung house looming large, counting of votes cast in the assembly polls last month will be taken up on Saturday.
"Over 14, 000 officials will be involved in counting at 54 counting centres in 27 locations, " Punjab Chief Electoral Officer V. K. Singh said on Friday, adding that the process will begin at 8 a. m.
All arrangements have been made for taking up counting of ballots cast on February 4 to elect 117 members of the 15th Vidhan Sabha (assembly).
"With a view to ensure peaceful and flawless completion of the whole counting process, adequate security arrangements have been also put in place.
Unauthorised persons will not be allowed to enter the counting centres, " the CEO said.
Punjab recorded a high voter turnout of 77. 4 per cent, from among 1. 98 crore eligible voters, to decide the fate of 1, 145 candidates, including 81 women and a transgender.
The fate of the Shiromani Akali Dal - BJP combine ruling Punjab since 2007 and taking a third shot at power, the Congress that was defeated in the 2007 and 2012 elections, and the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party should be clear by noon on Saturday.
Most constituencies witnessed triangular contests.
The by - election to the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, vacated by Congress leader Amarinder Singh in November 2016, was also held with the assembly polls.
Leaders of all parties are apprehensive that they may see a hung house.
Exit polls by various news channels and survey agencies have indicated a rout for the Akali Dal - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance in Punjab, with most projecting single - digit seats for the ruling combine.
While some surveys put the Congress and AAP in a neck - and - neck finish, one survey each gave a clear majority to the AAP and the Congress respectively.
A party needs 59 seats to gain a simple majority in the assembly.
The border state's Malwa belt, which accounts for 69 out of the 117 assembly seats, will decide the fate of the next state government.
Most districts in the belt saw a record turnout of 75 - 85 per cent.
Though women constitute nearly 47 per cent of the over 1. 98 crore electors in Punjab, the four main parties fielded only 27 women candidates.
Both the Congress and AAP are hoping to cash in on an anti - incumbency factor against the SAD - BJP alliance.
Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, 89, is the oldest serving Chief Minister in the country.
Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh has already announced this will be his last election in his long political career.
"We will win around 65 seats, " he said here.
Akali Dal President and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal sounded positive about retaining power.
"The results will prove all surveys wrong, " Badal junior said.
AAP leaders and volunteers had kept vigil by pitching tents outside government buildings where electronic voting machines (EVMs) were kept in strongrooms since the February 4 voting, amid apprehensions of tampering and mischief.