NEW DELHI: Voting for assembly election in Maharashtra and Haryana will be held on Monday amid unprecedented security arrangements made by the Election Commission. Bypolls will also be held to 51 assembly seats and two Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 18 states.
In the two states, the BJP and its allies are seeking to retain power on the back of the recent Lok Sabha election victory, while the Opposition is hoping to turn the tide by taking advantage of anti-incumbency.
In the run-up to the assembly election in Haryana and Maharashtra, high-voltage electioneering by the BJP saw participation of a galaxy of leaders led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, as it continued to aggressively raise the nationalism plank by focusing on scrapping of Article 370 provisions on special status to Jammu and Kashmir and targeted the opposition on national security and corruption.
The opposition tried to corner the BJP governments at the Centre and in the states on the handling of the economy with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi blaming the ruling party for the economic slowdown and unemployment and highlighting issues like “failure” of demonetisation and GST rollout.
In Haryana, the key parties in the fray are the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress and Indian National Lok Dal. As many 1,169 candidates including 104 women are vying for 90 Assembly seats out of which 17 are reserved. Nearly 1.83 crore voters are eligible to exercise their right to franchise.
Out of them, around 99 lakh are men while 85 lakh are women. Voting will be held in 16,357 Polling Stations across the state. Hansi constituency in Hisar district is having the highest number of candidates - 25 in the fray.
Both the ruling BJP and the main opposition Congress are contesting in 90 seats while Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) is contesting in 81 seats in alliance with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
Other parties in the running are the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Aam Aadmi Party and Jannayak Janta Party. In the recently held Lok Sabha elections 2019, BJP had won all the 10 parliamentary constituencies garnering 58.21 % of votes.
Chief Electoral Officer, Haryana, Anurag Agrawal informed that all the arrangement for Monday's polling have been made across the state.
Haryana Director General of Police Manoj Yadav has said that police is ready to ensure free and fair polls in the state. He said a total of 75000 security personnel have been deployed in the state. He told that special security arrangements have been made on 3000 vulnerable and 100 critical booths.
The DGP said police personnel deployed at check posts on interstate roads are keeping eye on the traffic coming from other states and suspicious vehicles are being checked. He said security personnel are also carrying flag march in their areas to instil confidence among voters.
In Maharashtra, where the ‘Mahayuti’ alliance of BJP, Shiv Sena and smaller parties is against the ‘Maha-agadhi’ led by the Congress and the NCP, a total of 8,98,39,600 people, including 4,28,43,635 women, are eligible to vote.
Maha-Yuti (Grand Alliance), the ruling combine, also includes Republican Party of India (A), Shiv Sangram, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and Rayat Kranti Sanghatana. Similarly, the Peasants and Workers Party, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, People's Republican Party and the Samajwadi Party are with the Maha-Aghadi camp.
As many as 3,237 candidates, including 235 women, are contesting in 288 seats and 96,661 polling booths are in place with 6.5 lakh staff for the voting exercise.
The BJP, which is seeking a second straight term under Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra, is contesting 164 seats, which include candidates of smaller allies contesting on its lotus symbol, while Sena has fielded candidates on 126 seats.
Nearly 8.9 crore voters will cast their votes for electing their representatives for 288-seat Maharashtra assembly on Monday. Out of these voters, more than 4.5 crores are men and around 4 crores are women. Altogether 3,237 candidates including 235 women are contesting in the elections.
The Nanded South seat in Marathwada region has the most number of candidates (38) in the fray.
In the recently held Lok Sabha elections 2019, BJP Shiv Sena combine had won 41 parliamentary constituencies out of 48 garnering 51.3 % of votes.
Chief Electoral Officer, Maharashtra, Baldev Singh said that all the arrangement for Monday's polling have been made.
Nearly 3 lakh police personnel have been deployed across the state to ensure smooth and peaceful elections. Apart from 2 lakh police personnel from the state police, additional 350 companies of CISF, CRPF and Nagaland Women Police have been deployed at 96 thousand 661 polling stations.
Special arrangements like ballot paper in braille, Divyang Mitra and other facilities will be available at the polling stations. Wheelchairs and separate queue facility will be available for the senior citizens as well as 'Divyang' voters.
Three helicopters and drones will be used in Naxal affected Gadchiroli district. The voting in the district will begin at 7 in the morning and will conclude at 3.00 PM. At least 100 companies of SRPF and 45000 personnel of Home Guards are deployed in the district.
40,000 police personnel are deployed and drones will be used for surveillance in Mumbai. There are 9894 polling stations in Mumbai out of which 270 have been declared as sensitive.
Besides this, by-polls for two Lok Sabha constituencies -Samastipur in Bihar and Satara in Maharashtra and 51 Assembly seats across 17 states and one Union Territory, including 11 in UP and 6 in Gujarat, will also be held on Monday.
The results will be declared on Thursday, October 24.
(With Agency inputs)