India vote count begins (Lead)

May 16th, 2009 - 9:43 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Millions of votes polled in the staggered Lok Sabha elections began to be counted across the country Saturday morning, with most results expected by midday.
The mammoth exercise overseen by the Election Commission started at 8 a.m. in 4,260 counting halls in 1,080 centres.

About 60,000 officials have been deployed to count an estimated 420 million votes cast over five phases between April 16 and May 13. Nearly 60 percent of India’s 714 million electorate voted.

Political pundits expect a fractured 545-member Lok Sabha, and political parties are already engaged in wooing new friends to make up the numbers needed to form a government.

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