Chandigarh: Polling began on Monday morning in 90 assembly constituencies of Haryana and during first over two hours poll percentage in the state was 7.44 per cent. Polling began at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm, officials said.
As per the Election Commission data, brisk polling was going on in many districts. Among other districts, poll percentage in Jind was 7.91 per cent, Bhiwani 10.76 pc, Ambala 6.67 pc, Palwal 8.88 pc, Gurgaon 6.40 pc, Faridabad 6.10 pc, Mewat 10.24 pc, Rewari 6.79 pc, Rohtak 9.80 pc, Hisar 11 pc and in Karnal district it was 5.92 pc. Panchkula district had the lowest polling percentage at 2.46 pc.
As many as 1,169 candidates including 105 women of various political parties are contesting the election. The prominent figures include Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, JJP’s Dushyant Chautala and INLD’s Abhay Singh Chautala.
Haryana’s lone woman minister Kavita Jain along with her husband and BJP leader Rajiv Jain and their two children, both first time voters, were among the early voters to cast vote in Sonipat. Chief Minister Khattar was travelling by a Jan Shatabdi train from Chandigarh to to cast his vote in Karnal from where he is seeking re-election.
Dushyant Chautala rode a tractor to reach the polling booth in Sirsa along with his wife Meghna and MLA-mother Naina Chautala to cast their votes. Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala along with his wife Gayatri exercised their right to franchise in Kaithal while Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja exercised her vote in Sirsa.
Wrestler-turned-politician and BJP candidate from Dadri, Babita Phogat also cast her vote from her native village in Bhiwani along with his father Mahavir Phogat and sister Geeta Phogat. Some contesting candidates also offered prayers at temples and other places of worship before casting their votes.
The BJP led by Khattar has set a target of winning 75 seats, while the Congress is hoping to make a comeback following a change in guard in the state. Currently, the BJP has 48 members in the state assembly.
As many as 19,578 polling stations have been set, including 13,837 in rural areas, Chief Electoral Officer, Haryana, Anurag Agarwal said. Tight security arrangements have been made and over 75,000 security personnel have been mobilised for the polls, DGP Manoj Yadava said earlier.
Over 1.83 crore voters are eligible to vote that includes 85 lakh women, over one lakh service voters and 252 transgenders. This time, out of total eligible voters, over 89 lakh young voters are under 40 years of age and there are also over 3.82 lakh voters, many of them first-timers, who fall in the age group of 18-19 years.
As many as 27,611 voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines are being used for the polls. CEO Agarwal said that webcasting would be done at 3,100 critical and vulnerable polling stations in the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Khattar and former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has appealed to people to come out and vote in large numbers.
In the polls, Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), a breakaway faction of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), is hoping for an improvement in its prospects following the debacle in Lok Sabha election, in which Bharatiya Janata Party had won all the 10 seats in the state. The JJP had emerged on the scene following a feud in the Chautala clan in December last year.
The BSP, AAP, INLD-SAD combine, Swaraj India and the Loktantra Suraksha Party (LSP) have thrown their hat into the ring, though none of them is fighting on all 90 seats. Prominent amongst those in the contest are Chief Minister Khattar (Karnal), former chief minister and Congress Legislative Party leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Garhi Sampla-Kiloi) and Randeep Singh Surjewala (Kaithal).
The BJP has fielded three sportspersons — Babita Phogat (Dadri), Yogeshwar Dutt (Baroda in Sonipat) and Sandeep Singh (Pehowa) — besides TikTok star Sonali Phogat (Adampur). Prestige of families of Haryana’s famous ‘Lals’ — Devi Lal, Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal, who were former chief ministers–is at stake.
Late Bansi Lal’s daughter-in-law Kiran Choudhary (Tosham) and son Ranbir Mahendra (Badhra) are contesting as Congress candidates. Devi Lal’s great grandson and JJP leader Dushyant Chautala (Uchana Kalan) and granddaughter-in-law Naina Chautala (Badhra) are fighting as JJP candidates.
Devi Lal’s grandson and former chief minister O P Chautala’s son Abhay Singh Chautala is fighting as INLD candidate (from Ellenabad). Late Bhajan Lal’s sons Kuldeep Bishnoi (Adampur) and Chander Mohan (Panchkula) are in the fray as Congress nominees. While BJP denied tickets to 12 of its 48 sitting legislators including two Ministers, the Congress retained its sitting legislators while the INLD saw its prominent faces switching over to the BJP, the Congress and the JJP.