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Maha, Haryana voters to decide Fadnavis & Khattar fate today

Maha, Haryana voters to decide Fadnavis & Khattar fate today

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 cashing in on 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.

The ruling BJP is locked in a contest with the opposition Congress and the fledgeling JJP for the 90 assembly seats in Haryana which has over 1.83 crore voters.

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 the 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 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.

The opposition campaign was, however, lacked fizz as infighting and desertions plagued both the Congress and the NCP in the run-up to the polls.

The campaign in Maharashtra was marked by personal attacks and sharp exchange of barbs between the chief minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who hit the hustings at the age of 79 and addressed several rallies.

In Haryana, the Congress is hoping to make a comeback following a change in guard in the state, while the BJP led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has set a target of winning 75 seats out of 90 in which 1,169 candidates of various political outfits are contesting.

The Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), a breakaway faction of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), is also hoping for an improvement in its prospects following the Lok Sabha debacle.

The BSP, AAP, INLD-SAD combine, Swaraj India and the Loktantra Suraksha Party (LSP) have thrown their hat into the ring.

Among the states ruled by the BJP and its allies, the maximum 11 seats will have bypolls in Uttar Pradesh, followed by six in Gujarat, five in Bihar, four in Assam and two each in Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

The other states where bypolls will be held are Punjab (4 seats), Kerala (5 seats), Sikkim (3 seats), Rajasthan (two seats) and one seat each in Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Meghalaya and Telangana. P10

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