The Bharatiya Janata Party looks set to register impressive victories in the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections. Psephologists and political experts both agree. Reports from the ground suggest the possible devastation of opposition parties in yet another round of elections. The opposition too seems reconciled to its fate. Unless voters decide to change the usual electoral predictability in the Modi era, there will be pre-Diwali celebrations in the BJP camp on Thursday when the verdict is out.
The BJP on Monday looked set to maintain its winning streak in Maharashtra and Haryana, with the IANS-CVoter Exit Poll predicting a massive victory for the party in the Assembly elections in the two states where it is already in power.
The saffron party appeared headed for a landslide victory in Haryana and a win with a huge margin in Maharashtra along with its allies, including Shiv Sena, five months after the tremendous performance in Lok Sabha elections.
In Haryana, the BJP was projected to bag 66-74 seats in the 90-member Assembly, while Maharashtra appeared to be giving it a mandate of 198-222 seats in the 288-member House, according to the exit poll.
In the last Assembly elections held in 2014, the party had got 47 seats in Haryana and 185 seats in Maharashtra along with Shiv Sena.
The saffron party made a clean sweep in this year’s Lok Sabha elections in Haryana, winning all the 10 seats at stake. In Maharashtra, the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition bagged 41 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats.
In the Assembly elections held on Monday, the Congress-led UPA seemed to be lagging way behind in both the states as the exit poll gave it only 3-12 seats in Haryana and 49-75 seats in Maharashtra.
Region-wise in Haryana, the BJP appeared to have scored heavily in Ahirwal and Kurukshetra as the exit poll predicted its tally to be 21-24 at both places. In Jatland, the party was projected to bag 13-15 seats and in Bagar.
The UPA was predicted to get 2-4 seats in Jatland, 1-3 in Ahirwal, 0-3 in Kurukshetra and 0-2 in Bagar.
In terms of vote share, the BJP was predicted to get 42.4 per cent against 26 per cent of Congress and 19 per cent of Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), a breakaway faction of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).
The BJP seemed to have got the maximum vote share of 48.1 per cent in Kurukshetra, followed by 44 per cent in Ahirwal, 37 per cent in Bagar and 35 per cent in Jatland.
The Congress appeared to have got 32.5 per cent in Jatland, 26.6 per cent in Ahirwal, 25.1 per cent in Bagar and 22.5 per cent Kurukshetra.
The JJP’s vote share was predicted to be 25.4 per cent in Bagar region, followed by 19.8 per cent in Jatland, 17.5 per cent in Kurukshetra and 15.8 per cent in Ahirwal. The JJP was predicted to get 7 seats.
In Maharashtra, the BJP-led NDA seemed to have performed the best in Vidarbha region where it was projected to get 47-51 seats, followed by 42-46 in western Maharashtra, 30-34 in Konkan, 29-33 in Mumbai, 26-30 in Marathvada and 24-28 in North Maharashtra.
The UPA seemed to be getting the maximum of 21-25 seats in West Maharashtra, followed by 11-15 in Marathvada, 8-12 in North Maharashtra, 6-10 in Vidarbha, 3-7 in Konkon and 0-6 in Mumbai.
In terms of vote share, the NDA was predicted to grab 45.3 per cent while the UPA was expected to get 35.6 per cent.
Out of the NDA’s vote share, 26.8 per cent seemed to be going for BJP and 18.5 per cent to its ally Shiv Sena.
The biggest vote share of 54.4 per cent for NDA seemed to be coming from Mumbai region, followed by 49.6 per cent in Konkon, 47.6 per cent in North Maharashtra, 43.5 per cent in West Maharashtra, 42.8 per cent in Vidarbha and 41.1 per cent in Marathwada.
Between UPA allies Congress and NCP, a vote share of 19.5 per cent seemed to be going towards the former and 16.1 per cent towards the latter.
Sixty-four per cent of over 1.83 crore voters in Haryana turned out on Monday to elect 90 members of the Assembly amidst minor skirmishes, while Maharashtra, which started on low-to-moderate voting, registered 58 per cent by the evening to its 288 seats, the Election Commission said.
Polling was also held for the by-elections to 51 Assembly seats and two Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 17 states.
Barring few “sporadic incidences”, Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha said that both the Assembly elections and all the by-elections have been “peaceful and smooth”.
He also said that the Election Commission this time used community radio.
“More than 50 community radio stations were used across Maharashtra and Haryana. They were very pro-active in voter education and awareness.”
Sinha said the counting will begin on October 24 at 8 a.m. for Haryana and Maharashtra Legislative Assemblies.
A total of 69.74 per cent of voters had cast their votes in Haryana in the Lok Sabha election in May, while in the 2014 Assembly polls, the state recorded the highest-ever turnout of 76.54 per cent.
The state with 19,578 polling stations used 27,611 voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPATs) machines. A total of 1,169 candidates, including 105 women and a transgender, were in the fray. While the BJP and the Congress are contesting on all 90 seats, the BSP is in the fray on 87 seats, and the INLD is contesting on 81 seats. There are some 375 candidates contesting as independents.
Another official said that minor scuffles among supporters of different political parties were also reported from Dabwali in Sirsa Uchana Kalan in Jind district and Nuh in Mewat, but the situation was under control.
In Muslim-dominated Nuh in Mewat region, a woman was injured in a clash between two groups outside a polling booth in Malaaka village.
Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, tribal areas in different parts of the state such as Thane, Palghar, Chandrapur and Nandurbar recorded a higher turnout while most other parts of the state, especially the urban and semi-urban areas, lagged behind. State capital Mumbai recorded around 46 per cent while the second capital – Nagpur – registered 56 per cent turnout.
Exclusive facilities were provided to senior citizens and persons with disabilities, Sinha said.
“In Maharashtra, more than 5,300 polling stations, which were on the first or second floor in earlier elections, were brought down to the ground floor.
“More than Rs 25 crore were allocated to provide for such temporary polling stations created. Voters with a disability and senior citizens were provided a special facility to eliminate any discomfort to them.”
Sinha said that special attention was paid for providing adequate CPF component for Maoist-affected area.
“The Naxal (Maoist)-affected area of Gadchiroli and Gondia was totally peaceful this time.”
As other places were also “peaceful”, the official said it was “silver lining” for the election.
By-elections were held in two parliamentary constituencies — Samastipur in Bihar and Satara in Maharastra, Sinha said.
He said that by-elections were also held in 11 places — one each in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Puducherry and Chhattisgarh, two each in Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, three in Sikkim, four each in Assam and Punjab, five each in Bihar and Kerala, six in Gujarat and the maximum – 11 – in Uttar Pradesh.
By-elections to 15 seats in Karnataka had been notified on October 23.
“Our matter being sub-judice before Supreme Court. It has been rescheduled and the process of nomination will restart on November 11 and the poll will be held on December 5,” he said, adding that by-elections in West Bengal were not announced due to Durga Puja holidays while one by-election in Uttarakhand was not declared due to their Panchayat elections.
“The Commission will soon announce these elections.”
As far as the preparations for Jharkhand elections is concerned, Sinha said that Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain recently visited the state to assess the preparations there and the Commission will be visiting there very shortly to undertake the preparedness.
More than 80 per cent turnout was recorded in the by-election to Huzurnagar Assembly constituency in Telangana on Monday, poll officials said.
The polling ended peacefully at 5 p.m. but those standing in queues at the polling stations were being allowed to cast their votes.
A huge turnout of 82.23 per cent was recorded till 5 p.m. Officials at the office of the State Chief Electoral Officer said the final polling percentage will be known later.
A turnout of 85.96 per cent was recorded in the constituency in the Assembly elections held in December 2018.
Enthusiasm among voters marked the polling, which began at 7 a.m. at all 302 polling stations in the constituency in Suryapet district. Long queues of men and women voters were seen at the majority of the booths.
The constituency recorded 31.34 per cent voters by 11 a.m. It picked up further in the afternoon to reach 69.95 at 3 p.m.
A total of 2,36,842 voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the by-election, the first since the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) retained power in the state in December 2018.
While 28 candidates including three women are in the fray, the main contest is between TRS candidate S. Saidi Reddy and opposition Congress party’s N. Padmavati Reddy, wife of state Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy.
The by-poll was necessitated by the resignation of Uttam Kumar Reddy from Assembly following his election to Lok Sabha from Nalgonda.
The TRS has never won the seat since it was created in 2009 during the delimitation of constituencies. Uttam Kumar Reddy of Congress won all three elections (2009, 2014 and 2018).
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has fielded Kota Rama Rao, is looking to increase its vote share while the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which is battling to maintain a toehold in Telangana politics, has fielded Chava Kiranmayi.
Saidi Reddy, who had lost to Uttam Kumar Reddy 7,466 votes in 2018, cast his vote at Gundlapalli village.
Police confined Uttam Kumar Reddy to his house in Huzurnagar, following a complaint by to the election authorities by the TRS. The ruling party said since the state Congress chief is a non-local, he should leave the constituency. Uttam Kumar Reddy, however, argued that he is a local as he has his house in the town.
Tension prevailed at Uttam Kumar Reddy’s house Sunday night when officials reached there. However, District Collector and returning officer Amoy Kumar later clarified that the Congress leader can remain in the constituency as Huzurnagar is one of the Assembly segments in his Nalgonda constituency but he will not be allowed to come out of his house.
Authorities had made elaborate arrangements for the peaceful and smooth conduct of the by-poll. The Election Commission deployed nearly 1,500 security personnel and deployed 965 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). (IANS)