An estimated 64 per cent of Maharashtra’s 8.35 crore voters on Wednesday cast their ballots in a bitterly-fought election that pollsters said will throw up a hung Assembly with BJP emerging as the single-largest party but falling short of a majority in the 288-member House.
“Approximately 64 per cent polling has been recorded by 6 pm. The exact details are being worked out,” sources in the office of the state’s Chief Electoral officer said.
The poll, considered the first major test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity after Lok Sabha election, passed off peacefully.
Meanwhile, History was created in Haryana on Wednesday as over 73 per cent of the 1.63 crore eligible voters exercised their franchise, surpassing the previous high of 72.65 per cent in 1967.
“More than 73 per cent voters had cast their votes. However, the final percentage figure was likely to go up as voters were still inside polling stations and all figures were being compiled,” Haryana’s Chief Electoral Officer, Shrikant Walgad informed.
Prominent among those whose electoral fate will be decided when counting takes place on Sunday include former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, his deputy and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar, state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Eknath Khadse, his counterpart in Legislative Council Vinod Tawde (both BJP), Shiv Sena leader in the outgoing Assembly Subhash Desai and his MNS counterpart Bala Nandgaonkar.
Polling started on a brisk note, slowed down around noon but again picked up and about 55 per cent of the electorate had cast their votes by 5 PM, officials said.
Technical problems in electronic voting machines (EVMs) were reported from some polling booths in Nagpur city and Wardha district in Vidarbha, and Sewree in Mumbai. Voters in a Nashik booth also complained that the electoral rolls were not in order.
A policeman on election duty was killed after being struck by lightning in Avdeghat polling station of Savner constituency in Vidarbha, where polling in some parts was marred by rains.
The election, first in over two decades without any major pre-poll alliances in place after BJP snapped its 25-year-old ties with Shiv Sena and NCP broke off its partnership with Congress after a 15-year shot at power in the state, will also test the individual mettle of the parties.
Raj Thackeray’s MNS, after a drubbing in Lok Sabha poll, is seeking to emerge as X factor and the king maker in the contest where multiplicity of parties is expected to drastically reduce victory margins.
The Election Department officials said that those voters who had entered the polling station by 6 pm will also be allowed to cast their vote.
Close to 6 pm, healthy voter turnout was witnessed at Fatehabad district (78 pc), Hisar (73 pc), Jind (75 pc), Kaithal (79 pc), Kurukshetra (78 pc), Mewat (76 pc), Rohtak (70 pc) and Yamunanagar (79 pc).
However, polling was not that high in Faridabad district (57 pc), Gurgaon (64 pc) and Panchkula (66 pc).
Amid tight security, polling commenced in all the 90 Assembly seats at 7 AM to decide the fate of 1,351 candidates. Counting of votes will take place on October 19.
Over 1.63 crore voters including over 87 lakh women were eligible to cast their vote in the polls, in which stakes are high for ruling Congress, BJP and INLD.
In 2009 polls, total polling of 72.37 per cent had been recorded.
In 1967, maximum polling of 72.65 per cent had taken place while in 1968 minimum polling of 57.26 per cent was registered.
Similarly, in Assembly elections of 1972 total percentage of polling was 70.46 per cent in Haryana.
In 1977, the total polling percentage was 64.6 per, in 1982 it was 69.87, in 1987 total polling percentage was 71.24 per cent, in 1991 it was 65.86 per cent, 70.54 per cent in 1996, 69.01 per cent in 2000 and 71.96 per cent in 2005.
2014 Lok Sabha polls registered 71.86 per cent polling.
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