October 21, 2019
NEW DELHI: Voting for the assembly polls is on in Maharashtra and Haryana, where the BJP is seeking a second term in power and hopes for an easy victory. The Congress, yet to recover from its rout in the Lok Sabha election, is in a shambles in both states – battling factionalism, rebellion by leaders and defections. Its ally in Maharashtra, Sharad Paward’s Nationalist Congress Party, is struggling. For Maharashtra’s 288 seats, the BJP is continuing its alliance with Shiv Sena, despite their rocky relationship over the last five years. Uttar Pradesh is seeing a mini assembly election of sorts, with bypolls in 11 seats. Bypolls are being held in 53 seats across 17 states and one union territory. “I urge voters in these states and seats to turnout in record numbers and enrich the festival of democracy,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. The counting of votes will take place on Thursday. Maharashtra recorded a voter turnout of 5.8 per cent till 10 am while Haryana say a turnout of 8.9 per cent till 10 am.
Here are the top 10 facts on elections in Maharashtra and Haryana:
In Maharashtra, the BJP is contesting on 150 seats, the Shiv Sena on 124 seats. The rest of the 288 seats are for smaller allies. In the opposition camp, the Congress is contesting 146 seats, the Nationalist Congress Party on 117 seats. The Sena-BJP alliance currently hold 217 seats, the Congress and the NCP 56 seats.
Under the seat sharing agreement between Maharashtra’s ruling alliance, the BJP will get the top post and Uddhav Thackeray’s party will get the deputy Chief Minister’s post. The BJP has announced that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis would continue to helm the government. For his deputy, the Sena’s choice is likely to be Uddhav Thackeray’s 29-year-old son Aaditya Thackeray. Thackeray Senior, however, has played down the possibility, saying a politician doesn’t get the top job after taking “the first step in politics”.
Aaditya Thackeray is the first in his family to contest elections in the five decades since his grandfather Bal Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena. He is likely to get a walkover in Worli – a Sena stronghold where the opposition candidate, the NCP’s Sachin Ahir, crossed over recently.
In Haryana, the ruling BJP is locked in contest with the Congress and the fledgling JJP (Jannayak Janta Party) for the 90 assembly seats. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has set a target of 75 of 90 assembly seats. Last time, the BJP won 48 seats, the Congress 17.
The Dushyant Chautala-led JJP, a breakaway faction of Ajit Singh’s Indian National Lok Dal, is hoping for an improvement in its prospects following its poor show in the Lok Sabha elections. The party was formed after a feud in the Chautala clan in December.
For this round of state election, the BJP, instead of focusing on local issues, has built its campaign on national issues like the end to special status in Jammu and Kashmir and the National Register of Citizens, which the centre wants to take across the country.
The Shiv Sena continued to take digs at the BJP in the run-up to the elections, questioning why the BJP had held such a high-powered campaign in the state if the opposition has no “wrestler” left in the fray. “The question then arises about the motive behind some 10 rallies of Modi, 30 of Amit Shah, and Fadnavis himself holding 100 rallies across Maharashtra,” senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut said.
The opposition Congress has focussed on local issues, including jobs and economy. But its campaign was lacklustre in face of the BJP’s high-voltage show where senior leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath addressed multiple rallies. In Maharashtra, there was no joint campaign of the NCP and Congress.
Ahead of the election, senior NCP leader and former union minister Praful Patel was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate, which is investigating an alleged property deal between him and Hajra, the wife of Dawood Ibrahim’s aide Iqbal Mirchi. Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar are battling charges filed by the agency in a case related to alleged irregularities at a cooperative bank.
In 2014, the Sena and the BJP had ended their alliance ahead of the state elections, only to get back together after the state delivered a split verdict. The BJP had turned out to be the single largest party, but fell far short of a majority. The Congress and the NCP, which too had split ahead of the elections, found their numbers hugely depleted.