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Saturday, Nov 23, 2019

Maharashtra braves rain, EVM glitches to seal the fate of new assembly

According to provisional figures provided by the Election Commission of India’s Voter Turnout app, Maharashtra recorded a polling percentage of 59.05% as of 10 pm. In the 2014 state elections, the voter turnout was 63%. Rural areas of the state fared better than their urban counterparts

assembly-elections Updated: Oct 22, 2019 06:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Female voter stand in queue to cast their vote, during the state election at Colaba in Mumbai on Monday.
Female voter stand in queue to cast their vote, during the state election at Colaba in Mumbai on Monday.(Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/ Hindustan Times)
         

Voting began on a brisk note in the Assembly elections in Maharashtra on Monday with people queuing up outside polling booths early morning onwards. According to provisional figures provided by the Election Commission of India’s Voter Turnout app, Maharashtra recorded a polling percentage of 59.05% as of 10 pm. In the 2014 state elections, the voter turnout was 63%. Rural areas of the state fared better than their urban counterparts.

Around 4600 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) malfunctioned during the election process, leading to delay in voting across the state.

Baldev Singh, chief electoral officer said, “The turnout of the voters is satisfactory in the wake of the raining in some part of state. The percentage is expected to go up... We received 361 complaints, including 151 from opposition, 90 from ruling parties, about the malfunctioning of the machines. The glitches were fixed within minutes by our officers at the polling stations.”

In the 2014 elections, out of the total 288 assembly constituencies, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won 122 seats and the Shiv Sena 63. Both the parties had contested the polls separately then. The Congress won 42 seats, while ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) won 41 seats.

In 2019, the saffron allies contested together, but faced off in a few constituencies including Kankavli, where former Congressman Narayan Rane’s son, Nitesh Rane, contested from a BJP ticket, and the Shiv Sena put up its own candidate due to rivalry with the Ranes. The BJP, which is seeking a second straight term under chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, contested 164 seats, which included candidates of smaller allies, while Sena fielded 126 candidates. The Congress fielded 147 candidates while ally NCP fielded 121.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, who was among the early voters in Nagpur, said the people will vote on the basis of the five-year performance of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Devendra Fadnavis-led dispensation in Maharashtra. “The BJP-Sena will have a record-breaking victory and Fadnavis will be the chief minister again,” he told reporters after casting his vote.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, his grand-daughter Revati Sule and son-in-law Sadanand Sule voted at a polling booth in south Mumbai in the morning. “Youngsters want change. The BJP and Shiv Sena ruled the state and people hoped their expectations would be fulfilled. That trust, however, has been betrayed. I do not have any doubt that there will be a change,” Pawar told reporters.

Facing a tramp through muddy waters, voters in Kambleshwar village located 71 km from district headquarters Satara, ingeniously built a makeshift bridge of tractor-trolleys to reach the polling booth.

“Despite heavy rains, voters being facilitated by innovative, available means! @ Polling stations 351 and 352. Kambleshwar village Maharashtra @CEO_Maharashtra,” Election Commission spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan tweeted.

In Pune, A 102-year-old man, suffering from a heart ailment, went straight to a polling booth to cast his vote after being discharged from a hospital. In Gadchiroli district, a 45-year-old teacher posted on election duty died in hospital after fainting while walking towards the voting booth, an official said.

The Congress said it filed over 250 complaints of poll procedure violations with the Election Commission, including one for Ramtek segment where it said if the EVM button was pressed in favour of Congress candidate, but the vote was shown to be going to the BJP nominee.

The high-voltage electioneering by the BJP saw the participation national leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, among others, as it raised the nationalism plank by focusing on scrapping of Article 370 provisions on special status to Jammu and Kashmir and targeted the opposition on national security and corruption. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi held rallies in the state, and allies Congress and NCP tried to corner the BJP governments at the Centre and in the states on the handling of the economy, the slowdown, farmer distress, and unemployment.