Raman Singh
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh addresses a press conference in New Delhi on May 19, 2010. Terming Naxals as the biggest terrorists, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh May 19 said there cannot be a 'soft line' to deal with Maoists but disfavoured use of air power to combat the menace. Attributing the recent spur in the Naxal violence to frontal operations by the security forces in the state, Singh favoured a long-term action joint action plan with the Centre to tackle the problem.PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

Counting of votes for the Chhattisgarh Assembly polls will be held on Tuesday. It is being viewed as a prestige battle for three-term Chief Minister Raman Singh and the opposition Congress' fight for a resurgence.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking a fourth straight term in office, the Congress is aiming to stage a comeback after being out of power for 15 years. Tight security arrangements have been made at the counting centres in all 27 districts, particularly the Naxal- affected ones, where voting was held in two phases on November 12 and 20 to elect a new 90-member Assembly.

The state had recorded 76.60 percent voter turnout in the polls. "Counting for all 90 seats would start at 8 am at the 27 district headquarters. All preparations have been completed and a three-layer security has been arranged at each counting centre," an election official here told PTI.

The counting of postal ballots will begin at 8 am and half-an-hour after the postal ballots are counted, the process of counting votes from the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) begins, he said. As many as 5,184 counting personnel and 1,500 micro- observers have been appointed for smooth conduct of the process, he said.

In every counting hall, 14 tables will be arranged in rows of seven tables each, apart from separate tables for the returning officer and for counting of postal ballots, he said.

The fate of 1,079 contestants, including Chief Minister Raman Singh, his 11 ministers and state presidents of the BJP and the Congress will be decided on Tuesday. The chief minister was locked in a fight in Rajnandgaon seat against Congress' Karuna Shukla, the niece of former prime minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

This time, the coalition between Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), former chief minister Ajit Jogi's Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) and Communist Party of India (CPI) added another dimension to the poll politics of Chhattisgarh, which has always been dominated by the BJP and the Congress.

Several exit polls have predicted a neck-and-neck fight between the big two. Of the 90 Assembly segments, 51 are for general category while 10 segments are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 29 for Scheduled Tribes.

In the last Assembly polls, the BJP had won 49, the Congress -39, while one seat each was bagged by the BSP and an Independent.