With less than 24 hours to go for counting of votes, political parties in Uttarakhand on Wednesday began fine-tuning their strategies to deal with any scenario that could possibly emerge once the results of the assembly polls are declared.
Counting of votes for the state's 70 assembly seats will begin at 8 am on Thursday. Over 65 per cent polling had been recorded in the Uttarakhand Assembly Polls held on February 14.
While many exit polls have given either the BJP or Congress a majority in Uttarakhand, several of them have predicted a close fight between the two major players or a hung assembly - a scenario in which the role of winning independents and candidates of regional outfits like the AAP, SP, BSP and UKD will become significant in government formation.
The BJP and Congress are locked in straight contests on 40 to 45 seats, while the regional outfits make the fight triangular on 25-30 seats.
Though the BJP and Congress have exuded confidence of winning a clear majority, their leaders have held several closed-door meetings among themselves over the last few days to deal with different scenarios that they may confront after the poll results.
The major parties are also keeping an eye on rebels who entered the fray as independents against their official nominees.
Thirteen rebels from the BJP and six from the Congress contested this time.
BJP national general secretary and strategist Kailash Vijayvargiya's visit here on Sunday had sent the Congress into alert mode with several party leaders already in town to ensure that their flock of MLAs remains intact.
Considered an expert in the politics of making and breaking, Vijayvargiya was closeted with another party strategist and former CM Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank after his arrival. They held meetings with several other party leaders, including Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, Pradesh BJP president Madan Kaushik and poll in-charge for the party in Uttarakhand Pralhad Joshi to put in place a foolproof strategy that can help the party retain power for a second consecutive term in the state.
Vijayvargiya had become active in state politics at the time of the rebellion against Harish Rawat by his MLAs in 2016, reducing his government to a minority and leading to imposition of President's rule in the state.
The Congress camp is also keeping a close watch on the situation with central party observer Dipendra Hooda, party in-charge for Uttarakhand Devendra Yadav, poll campaign head Harish Rawat and PCC president Ganesh Godiyal holding a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the strategy to be adopted for government formation.
Another meeting was held by party poll observer Mohan Prakash and M B Patil at the party office here on Wednesday.
The BJP had won 57 out of the total 70 assembly seats in the state in 2017, while the Congress had won just 11 seats.
Matching its landslide victory of the last polls and retaining power for a second consecutive term is the BJP's biggest challenge in Uttarakhand against a resurgent Congress trying to stage a comeback.