Lotus in full bloom in Maha, Haryana

RSTV Bureau

bjp_maharastraBJP, the party with a difference  has emerged as the single largest political party in both the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections. The exit polls predicted the emergence of BJP as the single largest party proved exact this time. In both Maharashtra and Haryana, BJP going to dominate over the regional political party.

The first good news for the BJP has come out from Haryana, where it tasted its first victory. Haryana BJP legislature party leader and candidate from Ambala Cantt Anil Vij defeats Nirmal Singh of Congress by a margin of 15,462 votes.

The election for the 288-member House, which saw a five- way fight between NCP, Congress, BJP, Shiv Sena and MNS of Raj Thackeray, is being seen as the first major popularity test of Modi, who assumed office around five months ago.

This may be the most eagerly-awaited poll result in the history of Maharashtra, where the two main alliances crumbled ahead of the election, adding a tinge of uncertainty in a state known till now for its largely bipolar polity.

Modi was the star campaigner for BJP, which is vying for power on its steam in the state for the first time in 25 years. All these years, the party had played second fiddle to Shiv Sena, which led the saffron alliance that came apart late last month over disagreement on sharing Assembly seats.

The vote count for October 15 balloting, which started at 8 AM at 269 locations across the state, will decide the electoral fate of several political bigwigs, including former Chief Ministers Prithviraj Chavan, Narayan Rane (both Congress), ex-Ministers Ajit Pawar and Chhagan Bhujbal (both NCP), Devendra Fadnavis, Eknath Khadse and Vinod Tawde (BJP).

Trends are expected to be available around noon and final results three hours later, election officials said.

Over 35,000 election staff are on duty.

A healthy 63.13 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the state, which saw a multi-cornered fight after decades.

Counting is also being held for votes cast in the bypoll to Beed Lok Sabha constituency in Marathwada region.

A total of 4,119 candidates, including 276 women, are in the poll ring. While Nanded South has the maximum 39 candidates, Akole and Guhagar have the minimum five each.

Congress has fielded candidates in 287 seats followed by Shiv Sena (282), BJP (280), NCP (278), BSP (260), MNS (219) and CPI-M (34).

Registered parties, other than recognised state and national outfits, fielded 761 candidates. There are 1,699 Independents in the fray.

The Election Commission has deputed 135 general observers, 112 expenditure, five police and 18 awareness observers, the officials said.

In Haryana,the fate of the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government, which is aiming at a third successive term, and BJP, which is eyeing to form a government on its own, would be known.

The state had created history by clocking an all-time high polling of about 76.54 per cent, surpassing maximum of 72.65 per cent in 1967 in the high-stakes battle among top contenders Congress, BJP and INLD in a multi-cornered contest.

The fate of 1351 candidates, including 116 women – the highest number since the formation of the state in 1966, was sealed during the single day polling.

Unlike in the recent past, when the fight was mainly between Congress and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), a number of new players have thrown their hats in the ring this time.

The key aspirants whose fate would be decided include top guns like Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Randeep Surjewala (Congress), former Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala’s son Abhay, daughter-in-law Naina and grandson Dushyant (INLD), former Union Minister Venod Sharma and his wife Shakti Rani (HJCP-V),former MP Kuldeep Bishnoi, his wife Renuka and elder brother former Deputy Chief Minister Chander Mohan (HJC-BL).

Congress and BJP contested elections from all 90 Assembly constituencies of the state whereas 88 candidates of INLD, 87 of BSP, 65 of HJC, 17 of CPM, 14 of CPI and 297 of Registered Parties including two candidates of the SAD and 603 Independent Candidates contested.

During the 2009 Assembly elections Congress had won 40 seats, INLD 31, BJP four, HJC-BL six, SAD and BSP one each and Independents seven.