Counting of votes for the RK Nagar bypoll, the outcome of which can have a bearing on political equations in Tamil Nadu, began here today.

The seat was represented by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa. The counting began by 8 am at Queen Mary's College here and the process is expected to be completed in 19 rounds. 

As many as 200 officials drawn from both Central and State government services have been deputed for the exercise. Tight security is in place with state and Central Armed Police Forces personnel providing multi-layered security. 

The outcome of the result is crucial for all key contenders - the ruling AIADMK, rival leader T T V Dhinakaran, and the main opposition DMK.

Unfazed by some exit polls indicating an edge for rival AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran, both AIADMK and DMK have expressed confidence that they would win the seat.

For the ruling regime helmed by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam, it will be seen as an acid test of whether voters prefer them after the demise of their formidable leader late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. 

For Dhinakaran, who claims to represent the welfare legacy of Jayalalithaa, the bypoll success is a veritable springboard for his future political aspirations. Success for an aggressive DMK is critical as it would lend credence to its campaign line that the people were fed up with the incumbent "horse-trading" regime and wanted to bring it to the seat of power for dispensing good governance. 

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