With multi-cornered fights emerging on several of the 90 assembly seats in Haryana, the prospect of a split verdict in the state looms large. Six players overall and three major players – the BJP, the INLD and the Congress — are slogging it out to attain the magic figure of 46.
The 2014 assembly polls are important for all three major players. A seat-by-seat analysis shows that the BJP and INLD are almost neck-and-neck and enjoy an upper hand on about 30-plus seats, each. The winning prospects of ruling Congress, which is battling nine-year-old anti-incumbency sentiments, look bleak and the party seems to have an advantage in just about 18-20 seats.
A good showing by the BJP will firmly establish the saffron party for the first time in the state. The BJP did well in Haryana for the first time in this year’s Lok Sabha polls, winning 7 out of 8 seats it contested. However, since several Congress leaders have jumped on the BJP bandwagon, it remains to be seen how crucial they prove to its prospects and how eventually the party handles them after the elections.
For Om Prakash Chautala’s INLD, it is a do-or-die battle this time around. The party is passing through its worst phase following the sentencing of Chautala and his elder son, Ajay Singh, for 10 years each in a corruption case. Chautala’s younger son, Abhay Singh, has been steering the party in his absence. The INLD can seek solace in the fact that it could win two Lok Sabha seats despite the absence of top leadership. But having remained out of power for 10 years and with Chautala being in jail, the party faces a serious crisis. Its cadres, however, looked upbeat after Chautala went on a whirlwind poll campaign despite being on medical bail. The Congress which has ruled the state since 2005 is battling anti-incumbency sentiment, annoyance of non-Jat voters and desertion by senior leaders.
This election probably poses the biggest electoral challenge to two-term Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of the Congress. Hooda not only faces anti-incumbency but a new challenger in the BJP. The emergence of the BJP in the state after its superb showing in the Lok Sabha polls has added a new dimension to the contest. The BJP banks on the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In the event of no political party getting a simple majority, the most obvious post poll tie up seems to be between the BJP and the INLD- both anti-Congress entities. However, the way Modi was critical of INLD chief Chautala seems to dampen the hope. Since politics make strange bed partners, Kuldeep Bishnoi’s Haryana Janhit Congress and its ally Haryana Jan Chetna Party could offer its support to any of the two — the BJP and INLD — depending on the post-poll situation.
2,700 booths sensitive
As Haryana votes to elect its new government on Wednesday, polling parties on Tuesday left for the 16,357 booths with electronic voting machines (EVMs). There are over 1.63 crore voters who would decide the fate of 1,351 candidates from 90 segments.
Chief electoral officer, Haryana, Shrikant Walgad said 2,700 booths have been identified as sensitive. Most of the sensitive zones, he said, are in Ellenabad, Uchana Kalan, Tosham, Narnaund, Kaithal and Palwal segments. He said a mock poll would be organised in front of agents of candidates from 6am to 7am on Wednesday; and after that polling would be held from 7am to 6pm.
Candidates of Congress and BJP are contesting all 90 seats whereas 88 of INLD, 87 of the BSP, 65 of the HJC, 17 of CPM, 14 CPI and 297 of other parties, while 603 are independents. Of the 90 Constituencies, 17 are reserved for SC/ST. Video cameras have been installed at all polling booths.