As the campaign for Haryana Assembly polls on 21 October came to an end this evening, it appears direct contest between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main Opposition party, Congress with smaller parties merely competing to register their presence in select areas.
The high voltage campaign in Haryana saw the BJP’s star campaigners including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home minister Amit Shah, defense minister Rajnath Singh raise issues of national importance including abrogation of Article 370 while the party’s state leaders harped on the achievements of the Manohar Lal Khattar government including corruption less governance and recruitments.
On the other hand, the Congress lacked the firepower to match the BJP campaign with former party president Rahul Gandhi addressing a few rallies towards the end of the campaign while party president Sonia Gandhi gave the party campaign a miss reportedly due to health reasons.
As many as, 1, 83, 90, 525 voters will exercise their voting rights in the state to elect 90 Members of the Legislative Assembly. In all, 1, 169 candidates are in the fray for these polls scheduled for October 21.
On most of the Assembly constituencies, the state is witnessing a direct contest between the BJP which has set a target of winning 75 seats for itself riding on the hype of the abrogation of Article 370 and the National Citizens Register (NRC) and the Congress.
Among the smaller parties, the Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) is expected to make its presence felt in a few seats. The JJP, floated by the great-grandson of late Devi Lal, is a breakaway group of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the INLD’s traditional voters appear to be backing the JJP in these polls. The JJP has also got a boost after former Haryana Congress president, Ashok Tanwar, announced his support to JJP candidates following his resignation from the Congress.
In the previous Assembly election, the ruling BJP won 47 seats in the backdrop of a strong Modi wave. But the party has since then consolidated its vote bank as indicated by the saffron party’s victory in all 10 Lok Sabha seats of the state earlier this year.
The Congress, on the other hand, is suffering from factionalism which saw Tanwar leave the party and announce his intentions to make the party lose these polls. The Congress is heavily relying on former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda to garner votes, especially in the Jat belt which comprises 36 assembly seats. Congress is focusing on issues like the economic slowdown, rising unemployment and farmers distress in its campaign.
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.