Mumbai/Chandigarh: Polling will be held on Monday to elect Maharashtra and Haryana assemblies with the BJP and its allies seeking to retain power in the two states on the back of the recent Lok Sabha polls victory, while the opposition is hoping to turn the tide by taking advantage of any anti-incumbency.
Bypolls will also be held to 51 assembly seats and two Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 18 states.
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.
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 ruling BJP is locked in a contest with the opposition Congress and the fledgling JJP for the 90 assembly seats in Haryana which has over 1.83 crore voters, including 85 lakh women and 252 transgenders, while 19,578 polling stations have been set up.
Polling will be held from 7 am to 6 pm. Tight security arrangements have been made with deployment of more than three lakh personnel from state police and central forces in Maharashtra, while over 75,000 security personnel have been mobilised in Haryana.
Counting of votes will be on October 24.
The 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.
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. On the other hand, the Congress has fielded 147 candidates and the ally NCP 121.
Among other parties, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), 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.