Mumbai/Chandigarh: The campaign for the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections dominated by the aggressive narrative of nullification of Article 370 by the BJP, which is seeking a second straight term under Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Manohar Lal Khattar, respectively, came to an end Saturday evening.
The elections will be held on October 21, and results will be declared on October 24.
From Opposition’s perspective, it was perhaps the most lacklustre canvassing in Maharashtra 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The campaigning for the Haryana assembly elections ended with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing two rallies in Rewari and Ellenabad on the last day.
There are over 1.83 crore voters in Haryana, over 83 lakh of them 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.
However, CM Khattar claimed that the opposition was in disarray and the BJP has no direct contest with any party.
The BSP, AAP, INLD-SAD combine, Swaraj India and the Loktantra Suraksha Party (LSP) have thrown the hat into the ring, though none of them is fighting on all 90 seats.
Rahul Gandhi and Ghulam Nabi Azad were among the prominent leaders who campaigned for the Congress.