New Delhi: Both Maharashtra and Haryana went to polls on Wednesday to elect their assemblies in high-stakes elections. While an estimated 64 per cent of Maharashtra’s 8.35 crore voters on Wednesday cast their ballots in a bitterly-fought election, Haryana created history clocking an all-time high polling of about 76 per cent.
The state surpassed the previous best of 72.65 per cent in 1967 in the high-stakes battle among top contenders Congress, BJP and INLD amid stray incidents of violence in many parts of the state. This is the highest-ever voting record in Haryana Assembly polls since 1967, chief electoral officer Shrikant Walgad said.
Both Maharashtra and Haryana have gone to polls on 288 and 90 Assembly seats respectively. While, the BJP was upbeat about the high voter turnout in Haryana, Modi wave is expected to put the BJP in the lead in Maharashtra.
In Maharashtra, polling started on a brisk note, slowed down around noon but again picked up and about 55 per cent of the electorate had cast their votes by 5 pm, officials said.The poll, considered the first major test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity after Lok Sabha election, passed off peacefully.
Prominent among those whose electoral fate will be decided when counting takes place on Sunday include former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, his deputy and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar, state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Eknath Khadse, his counterpart in Legislative Council Vinod Tawde (both BJP), Shiv Sena leader in the outgoing Assembly Subhash Desai and his MNS counterpart Bala Nandgaonkar.
The election, first in over two decades without any major pre-poll alliances in place after BJP snapped its 25-year-old ties with Shiv Sena and NCP broke off its partnership with Congress after a 15-year shot at power in the state, will also test the individual mettle of the parties.
Raj Thackeray’s MNS, after a drubbing in Lok Sabha poll, is seeking to emerge as X factor and the king maker in the contest where multiplicity of parties is expected to drastically reduce victory margins.
In Haryana, the main contest is between the ruling Congress, the main opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). On the other hand, this is the first elections in Maharashtra after established political formations -- Shiv Sena-BJP and Cong-NCP -- crumbled.
"The BJP is all set to form the next government in Haryana on its own. We will get a clear majority and end the rule of scams and corruption," BJP leader Abhimanyu said.
However, incumbent Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who cast his vote in his native village, was not willing to give up easily.
"Seeing the response of the voters, I can say that the Congress will win the elections and form the government for a third term," Hooda said.
The opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) said that the heavy turnout was an indicator that the party (INLD) was going to form the next government in the state.
Over 1.63 crore voters including over 87 lakh women were eligible to cast their vote in today’s polls for 90 Assembly seats in Haryana.
At the close of polling at 6 PM, there were queues of voters inside many polling stations.
Heavy polling was witnessed at places including Fatehabad, Hisar, Jind, Kurukshetra, Mewat, Rohtak, Sirsa and Yamunanagar, Kaithal while in Faridabad, Gurgaon and Panchkula districts, the polling remained moderate.
Polling was also heavy in constituencies from where top guns including Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Cong), Haryana Ministers Randeep Singh Surjewala and Kiran Choudhary, INLD’s Abhay Chautala and Dushyant Chautala and HJC’s Kuldeep Bishnoi are in fray.
The fate of 4,119 candidates in Maharashtra and 1,351 candidates in Haryana have been sealed in EVMs and the election results will be known in on Sunday (October 19) after vote count.