The fate of 1,169 candidates, who contested the Haryana Assembly elections, will be decided on Thursday when the counting of votes takes place amid tight security.
Over 1.83 crore voters were eligible to vote in the polls in Haryana, out of which 68.31 per cent had exercised their franchise on Monday to elect 90 members of the Assembly.
In most Assembly segments, the main contest is between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress but the two regional parties, Jannayak Janta Party’s (JJP) led by Dushyant Chautala and Om Prakash Chautala-led Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), hope to play the kingmaker if the two main parties fall short of the majority.
As all exit polls, barring one, have given majority to the BJP, the saffron party is hoping to retain the power in the state. Chief Minister (CM) Manohar Lal Khattar maintains the BJP would easily achieve its target of winning over 75 seats while former CM and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda is confident the party would prove all exit polls wrong and the Congress would make a comeback in the state.
While most exit polls projected a comfortable victory for the BJP, one predicted a close fight between the BJP and Congress with the JJP likely to play the kingmaker.
JJP spokesperson Prateek Som said his party will hold the key to forming the new government. “My party has always claimed that we will hold the key to forming the government in Haryana. This time, Haryana has gone for a silent voting. People were not very vocal about their choices,” he said.
“I am claiming today again that tomorrow there will be an astonishing result. JJP will play a significant part in the formation of the Haryana government,” Som added.
Joint chief electoral officer Inder Jeet said a counting centre has been set up in each of the 90 assembly constituencies and there is an additional centre in Gurgaon’s Badshahpur segment which had a larger number of polling booths. “The counting of votes will begin at 8 a.m.,” he said.
The electronic voting machines (EVMs) and the VVPAT paper trail machines used in Monday’s polling are kept at 90 strongrooms set up at 59 different locations, Inder Jeet said a three-tier security system is in place.
Central police forces personnel are deployed near the strongrooms in the first layer, Haryana Armed Police personnel are posted in the second layer and district police personnel man the outer layer.
In 2014, the BJP won 47 seats and the Congress 15, with two Haryana Janhit Congress legislators later merging with it. The INLD had 19 seats and the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal one each. There were five independents.
Prominent among those whose fate will be known on Thursday include Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, former Congress CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, JJP leader Dushyant Chautala and INLD”s Abhay Singh Chautala.
The BJP also fielded TikTok star Sonali Phogat and three sportspersons — Babita Phogat, Yogeshwar Dutt, and Sandeep Singh.