Unlike the previous assembly elections, especially the last one in 2005, the polls in Haryana next month will be a multi-cornered one on all 90 seats.
The ruling Congress, whose government led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda got the previous assembly dissolved seven months ahead of schedule, seems to be on a strong political footing. But there are many other players wanting to test the waters for the Oct 13 polls.
Besides the Congress, there are at least five mainline political parties in the state that are in the fray. On some seats, independents too will give good competition. The contest on most seats will be among five to six candidates.
Traditionally, it has been a direct contest in the state between the Congress and the main opposition, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). The INLD, in the past, had formed an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
However, the BJP broke its alliance with the INLD last month. Both the parties had formed an alliance for the May Lok Sabha polls but failed to win even a single seat.
The INLD and the BJP are now contesting all seats independently.
The Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), floated by former chief minister Bhajan Lal and his son Kuldeep Bishnoi, too is fighting the election independently. The party formed an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in June this year but the BSP pulled out last month.
The HJC tried tying up with the BJP, but the alliance did not materialise due to differences over seat sharing. The HJC leadership feels the party is better placed than other opposition parties, including the INLD, in this election to challenge the Congress.
The HJC claim is not misplaced. The party won one Lok Sabha seat (Hisar), thanks to its stalwart Bhajan Lal. The HJC win stopped the Congress from having a clean 10-on-10 run in the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress won nine of the 10 Lok Sabha seats from the state.
In the parliamentary elections, the Congress led in 59 assembly segments out of the 90 segments. The HJC led on nine seats while the INLD and BJP led on seven seats each. The INLD and the BJP were in an alliance then.
The BSP, which too has gone alone for all the seats in Haryana this time, was leading in eight seats in the May Lok Sabha polls.
Independent candidates, especially those leaders who have been denied the Congress ticket this time, will also make the contest for 10-15 seats a multi-cornered one.
In the previous assembly, 10 independent candidates had won.
The Congress had won 67 seats in the Feb 2005 assembly poll while the INLD had won only nine seats. The BJP had only two seats while the BSP and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had one seat each.