Campaigning ended on Saturday for the October 21 Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra, as well as the byelections to 51 Assembly seats and two Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 18 States. Counting of votes will be on October 24.
While the BJP’s high-voltage campaign focused on the dilution of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir and national security, the Opposition focused on the economy and unemployment, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi highlighting the economic slowdown, unemployment, the “failure” of demonetisation and the GST rollout.
Focus on Article 370
Campaigning for the Haryana election ended with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing two rallies in Rewari and Ellenabad. He attacked the Congress over Article 370 and the Kartarpur Corridor, accusing it of “destroying the country” with wrong policies and strategies.
At a rally in Rewari, Mr. Modi accused the Congress of failing to abrogate Article 370 despite having promised to do so in Parliament in 1964.
The State has 90 Assembly seats, with 1,169 candidates, including 105 women, 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 main contest is seen between the BJP, the Congress and the Jannayak Janata Party. The BSP, the AAP, the INLD-SAD combine, Swaraj India and the Loktantra Suraksha Party have also thrown their hats into the ring, though none of them is contesting in all 90 seats.
The campaign in Maharashtra was again dominated by the aggressive narrative on Article 370 by the BJP for a second straight term under Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. From the Opposition’s perspective, it was lacklustre canvassing, except a few rallies addressed by Mr. Gandhi and NCP leader Sharad Pawar.
The main contest for the 288 seats is a face-off between the “Mahayuti” of the BJP, Shiv Sena and allies, and “maha-aghadi” (front) led by the Congress and the NCP. A total of 3,237 candidates are in the fray, including 235 women.
The BJP is contesting 164 seats, which include candidates of smaller allies contesting on its lotus symbol, while Sena has fielded candidates on 124 seats. The Congress has put up 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 1,400 Independents are also in the fray.
Counting of votes will be on October 24.
In 2014 elections, the BJP had won the highest 122 seats, Sena 63, the Congress 42 and the NCP 41 seats.
The BJP and its allies are hoping that the winning momentum of the Lok Sabha polls will continue in the 51 Assembly byelections across 18 States. The BJP holds 30 of these seats while the Congress had won 12.