Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is not seeking a third term, is expected to put in his papers soon after the last meeting of his Cabinet on May 17 and the President will ask him to continue as the caretaker prime minister until his successor is sworn in. Of course, the length of the government formation exercise will depend entirely on the final tally in the Lok Sabha. In case the tally is close to what a majority of exit polls have predicted, the role of President Pranab Mukherjee would be limited and decisive. Alternatively, a hung verdict may mean a longer wait for the new PM.
According to Election Commission sources, though counting for a parliamentary poll usually winds up by 3-4 pm, a possible dispute or recount request may hold up formal declaration of result in a few constituencies. It is possible that the final result sheet for most key constituencies could be issued by the returning officer early on May 17. Since the result sheet has to be physically sent by the returning officer to the Chief Electoral Officer for compilation of final results for the state, it is possible that CEOs may have the state result sheet, listing the names of MPs elected to each constituency in the state, in place not before May 17 afternoon. The state-wise result sheet will then again be carried to Nirvachan Sadan by a representative from the CEO’s office or an EC official especially assigned for the job.
By May 18, the state-wise list of elected MPs is expected to be with the Election Commission. The lists from all the states will then be compiled by the Commission into a comprehensive list of members elected to all 543 seats in the Lok Sabha. By the evening of May 18 or May 19 morning, the EC expects to notify the list of members elected to the 16th Lok Sabha. Finally, a copy of the list will be presented to the President by Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath and his fellow election commissioners H S Brahma and S N A Zaidi. With this, the process of constitution of the 16th Lok Sabha would be complete.