After a long spell of intense electioneering, voting for the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections has begun. While the BJP, which rules both the states, will look to retain power, the Opposition Congress would hope to win back people’s trust after the debacle in Lok Sabha elections. Besides this, by-elections will also be held for two Lok Sabha constituencies and 51 Assembly elections spread across 18 states. In Maharashtra BJP-Shiv Sena led ‘Mahayuti’ alliance is up against the ‘Maha-agadhi’ coalition led by the Congress and the NCP.
As many as 3,237 candidates, including 235 women, are in the fray for the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly elections. The Election Commission has setup 96,661 polling booths with 6.5 lakh staffers to carry out the voting exercise. A total of 8,98,39,600 people, including 4,28,43,635 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise.
In Haryana, the ruling BJP-led by Manohar Lal Khattar is locking horns with the redemption-seeking Congress and unexperienced JJP of Dushyant Chautala for the 90-member Haryana Legislative Assembly. As many as 1,169 candidates of various political parties, including the BJP, Congress, INLD, JJP, Akali Dal and others, are in the fray for the 90 seats. While the Congress is hopping to improve its prospects following the Lok Sabha debacle, the BJP has set eyes on 75-seat target. Currently, the saffron party has 48 legislators in the 90-member state Assembly.
Dushyant Chautala's Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), a breakaway faction of Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), is also looking to make inroads into the state after miserable outing in the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year. The JJP was formed after a feud among the Chautalas in December last year.
Haryana Chief Electoral Officer Anurag Agarwal said that polling will be held at 19,578 stations across the state. The voting will start at 7 am and will go on till 6 in the evening. In wake of the polling, security across the state have been tightened with deployment of over 75,000 security personnel to carry out the polls.
As many as 1,169 candidates of various political parties, including the BJP, Congress, INLD, JJP, Akali Dal and others, are in the fray for the 90 seats. Over 1.83 crore voters, including 85 lakh women and 252 transgenders, are eligible to vote. Amid the concerns of EVM hacking, the state election commission has decided to use more than 27,000 verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines for the Assembly elections.
While the main contest is between the Congress and the BJP, the JJP, BSP, AAP, INLD-SAD coalition, Swaraj India and the Loktantra Suraksha Party (LSP) have also thrown the hat into the ring, even though most of them are not fighting on all 90 seats. In the 2014 Assembly polls, the BJP for the first time came to power in Haryana on its own strength.
As far as the poll campaigning is concerned, the BJP made revoking provisions of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan a major poll plank. The Congress and other Opposition parties targeted the ruling governments in both states over rising unemployment, slumping economy, farmers distress, alleged scams and "deteriorating" law and order situation.