After a month-long anxious wait, political parties in Tamil Nadu are set to face the day of reckoning when counting of votes will be taken up on Friday for the April 13 Assembly polls that saw a tightly fought contest between the fronts led by the DMK and AIADMK.
The Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will be opened on May 13 that would unseal the fate of the leaders including chief minister and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi and his bitter political foe AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa and their candidates who are keeping their fingers crossed with no palpable wave seen in the elections.
As many as 75.21% of the voters in the state had exercised their franchise for 234 Assembly seats.
The electoral outcome will come at a time when the 2G spectrum allocation probe, in which two members of the ruling DMK have been chargesheeted by the CBI, has emerged as a major topic of political discourse.
While former telecom minister A Raja has been jailed for his alleged role in the scam, the fate of Karunanidhi's daughter and Rajya Sabha MP, Kanimozhi will be decided on May 14, when a Delhi court is to pronounce its orders on her bail plea.
The succession issues still haunt the DMK's first family but it is believed that the 87 year-old Karunanidhi himself may take over the reins in the event of DMK being voted back to power.
The party had fielded its candidates from 119 seats and will be dependent on the support of Congress, which has made a strong pitch for power-sharing.
Much is at stake for Jayalalithaa, who fought a do or die battle in the elections to come back to power after a five-year long hiatus.
Her party had contested 160 seats besides allotting 42 to actor-politician Vijayakant's DMDK.
Besides these leaders, other important names in the fray include deputy chief minister M K Stalin, former chief minister and AIADMK senior leader O Panneerselvam, DMDK founder Vijayakant, CITU state general secretary A Sounderrajan and TNCC president KV Thangkabalu among others.
The DMK has fought the elections based on performance of its populist measures under the shadow of spectrum allocation scam while the AIADMK hit the streets highlighting the "failure" of law and order and power cuts.
Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) have been stored in strong rooms in 91 counting centres across the state and are being guarded by central and state forces round-the-clock.
Collectors of respective districts, also the District Election officers, have been reviewing the arrangements made for counting. The EVMs will be opened in the presence of observers and agents of political parties.