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Campaigning ends in Maharashtra, Haryana; over to voters now

Last updated on: October 19, 2019 22:10 IST

Political observers feel that the outcome of the elections weighs in favour of the BJP which had won a massive mandate in the Lok Sabha elections, held earlier this year. 

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, Shiv Sena president Uddhhav Thackeray being garlanded during an election rally ahead of Maharashtra assembly elections in Mumbai. Photograph: Shashank Parade/PTI Photo

The campaigning for the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections ended on Saturday evening.

The elections will be held on October 21, results of which will be declared on October 24.

Maharashtra has a total of 8,98,39,600 voters, including 4,28,43,635 women and 4,68,75,750 men, who are expected to exercise their franchise on October 21 to elect 288 out of total 3237 candidates, including 235 women, in the fray.

A total of 1,06,76,013 are voters fall in the age group of 18-25 years.

The BJP is contesting 164 seats, which include candidates of smaller allies contesting on its lotus symbol, while Sena has fielded candidates on 124 seats.

On the other hand, the Congress has fielded 147 candidates and the ally NCP 121.

Among other parties, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, led by Raj Thackeray, has fielded 101 candidates, the CPI 16, the CPM 8. The BSP has fielded candidates in 262 constituencies.

A total of 1400 Independents are also in the poll arena.

In Haryana, of the over 1.83 crore voters, over 83 lakh are women.

As many as 19,578 polling stations, 13,837 of these in rural areas, had been set up across the state amid tight security arrangements, officials said.

The state has 90 assembly segments, for which 1,169 candidates, including 105 women, are in the fray.

While the ruling BJP made the scrapping of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir a major poll plank, the opposition slammed the government over issues of unemployment and farmers' distress during electioneering.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has set a target of bagging over 75 seats.

Currently it has 48 members in the 90-member assembly.

Prominent amongst those in the contest are Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar (Karnal), former CM and Congress Legislative Party leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Garhi Sampla-Kiloi), Randeep Singh Surjewala (Kaithal), Kiran Choudhary (Tosham) and Kuldeep Bishnoi (Adampur).

Besides, JJP's Dushyant Chautala (Uchana Kalan), INLD's Abhay Singh Chautala (Ellenabad), state BJP chief Subhash Barala (Tohana), lone woman minister Kavita Jain (Sonipat), ministers Ram Bilas Sharma (Mahendergarh), Anil Vij (Ambala Cantt), O P Dhankar (Badli) and Capt Abhimanyu (Narnaund) are also in the fray.

The BJP has fielded three sportspersons-Babita Phogat (Dadri), Yogeshwar Dutt (Baroda in Sonipat) and Sandeep Singh (Pehowa)--besides TikTok artist Sonali Phogat (Adampur).

The main contest is seen between the BJP, Congress and the Jannayak Janata Party.

From Opposition's perspective, it was perhaps the most lacklustre canvassing with the exception of a few rallies addressed by Rahul Gandhi who highlighted issues like the economic slowdown, unemployment, "failure" of demonetisation exercise and GST rollout.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top BJP brass of the BJP, including Union ministers, raised Article 370 and Opposition's "objection" to withdraw the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

The PM also spoke about "corrupt" leadership of the Opposition.

For its part, the Opposition camp raised the issues of economic slowdown and joblessness but appeared lacking in projecting itself as a strong alternative to the BJP narrative.

In Maharashtra, the main contest lies between the "Mahayuti" or grand alliance led by the BJP and the "maha-aghadi" (front) led by the Congress and the NCP.

The bypoll for Satara Lok Sabha constituency will also be held on October 21. Former NCP leader and sitting MP Udayanraje Bhosale is in the fray from the seat on a BJP ticket against Shriniwas Patil of the Congress-NCP combine.

The campaign is marked by personal attacks and sharp exchange of barbs between the chief minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

For the Opposition, Pawar seemed to be the only saving grace who hit the hustings at the age of 79 and addressed a number of rallies in which he attacked PM Modi and BJP on a string of issues.

However, the Congress and NCP failed to hold even a single joint rally in contrast to the joint rally held by the prime minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai on October 18.

While Modi addressed nine rallies across the state, Rahul Gandhi spoke at six public meetings.

In his speeches, Modi dared the Opposition to bring back provisions of the now scrapped Article 370 in their election manifesto. He also hinted at continued action against Opposition leaders "who are in jail" in corruption cases.

The BJP also sought to subtly raise the Hindutva narrative when the Maharashtra unit of the party raised the demand for conferring the Bharat Ratna for Hindutva icon Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in its manifesto.

The raising of the Bharat Ratna honour and Article 370 forced the Congress to nuance its position on both the issues, with former prime minister Manmohan Singh clarifying that the Congress was not against scrapping of special status of Jammu and Kashmir. He also said the Congress was not against Savarkar per se, but the Hindutva ideology.

The elections are also marked by an undertone of jostling for supremacy between the BJP and the Sena.

On the last day of campaign, Fadnavis and Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray held roadshows in their respective constituencies of Nagpur South West and Worli in Mumbai, while Union Home Minister Amit Shah addressed rallies in North Maharashtra.

Sharad Pawar held a string of public meetings in Western Maharashtra.

The elections were marked by a largescale dissensions in the rank and file of the BJP as well as the Sena, with many candidates who were denied tickets contesting as Independents.

Prominent candidates in the fray are chief minister Fadnavis and his predecessors from Congress, Ashok Chavan, who is in fray from Bhokar in Nanded district, and Prithviraj Chavan seeking re-election from Karad South in Satara district.

In a first, Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, son of Uddhav Thackeray, is contesting from Worli in Mumbai. The 29-year-old is the first Thackeray to make debut in electoral politics.

A total of 6.5 lakh polling staff is roped in for the October 21 voting, for which 96,661 polling booths are being put in place. A total of 1,35,021 VVPAT machines are also installed.

Among the 288 constituencies, the maximum 38 candidates are in the fray from Nanded south seat and the minimum three from Chiplun in Ratnagiri district.

In 2014 elections, the BJP had won the highest 122 seats, Sena 63, the Congress 42 and the NCP 41 seats.

Since then, two by-elections were held due to death of two legislators Krushna Ghoda (Palghar) and Bala Sawant (Bandra east). The Sena manged to retain both the seats.

In the run-up to elections, several legislators of the Congress and the NCP switched sides to the ruling BJP and Sena. Some of them managed to get tickets.

Political observers feel that the outcome of the elections weighs in favour of the BJP which had won a massive mandate in the Lok Sabha elections, held earlier this year.

The BJP leaders are claiming that the NDA alliance would win 222 of the 288 Assembly seats.

In Haryana, the high-voltage electioneering saw the BJP fielding a galaxy of leaders, including PM Modi, his cabinet colleagues Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani.

The Bahujan Samaj Party, the Aam Aadmi Party, the INLD-SAD combine, Swaraj India and the Loktantra Suraksha Party have thrown the hat into the ring, though none of them is fighting on all 90 seats.

BJP's Hema Malini, Sunny Deol and Gautam Gambhir also canvassed for the party.

Rahul Gandhi and Ghulam Nabi Azad were among the prominent faces for the Congress.

Yogendra Yadav campaigned for his party Swaraj India, which is contesting on 27 seats.

JJP's Dushyant Chautala criss-crossed the state for his party candidates before former Congress chief Ashok Tanwar quit his party and announced his support to the JJP and campaigned for it.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stayed away from campaigning for the Aam Aadmi Party, whis is fighting on 46 seats.

BSP chief Mayawati campaigned for her party, which is contesting on 87 seats.

The INLD's Abhay Chautala also campaigned for his party, contesting on 86 seats, while its ally SAD is fighting on three seats.

Former Kurukshetra MP Raj Kumar Saini sought votes for the LSP, contesting on 71 seats.

The BJP made the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir a major poll plank. It also promised the National Register of Citizens in the state.

In his two rallies in Nuh and Mahendragarh, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had no understanding of the economy and claimed that the world was mocking India as the BJP was pitting people against each other.

Attacking the government over the state of economy, Rahul Gandhi said unemployment was the highest in the past 40 years in the country and farmers were committing suicide.

Congress' Bhupinder Singh Hooda and other opposition leaders, including JJP's Dushyant Chautala and INLD's Abhay Chautala, attacked the BJP, alleging non-fulfilment of promises, deteriorating law and order situation and unemployment.

The Congress and the INLD promised debt waiver for farmers.

Ahead of the polls, the BJP denied tickets to 12 of its sitting legislators, which included two ministers-Vipul Goel (Faridabad) and Rao Narbir Singh (Badshahpur).

Of the 12 legislators, Randhir Kapriwas turned rebel and entered the fray from Rewari.

The Congress retained its sitting legislators while the Indian National Lok Dal, which witnessed a split last year owing to a feud in the Chautala clan, saw its prominent faces switching over to the BJP, Congress and the JJP.

In the 2014 assembly polls, the BJP had won 47 seats. It won the Jind bypolls earlier this year, taking the total strength to 48.

The INLD had 19 MLAs while the Congress has 17 legislators.

The BSP and the SAD had bagged one seat each in the last polls while five were Independents.

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