New Delhi: Stage is set for Assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana tomorrow, one of the biggest electoral tests after the Lok Sabha polls for Narendra Modi, who spearheaded a high-decibel BJP campaign to wrest power from the opposition in what promises to be a close contest.
Maharashtra will witness a five-cornered contest for the 288-member House. An electorate of about 8.25 crore will choose from 4,119 candidates in the fray, including 1,699 Independents.
While Congress has fielded the largest number of 287 candidates, BJP has put up 280, Shiv Sena 282, NCP 278 and MNS 219.
With long-standing political alliances crumbling, the poll will test the mettle of four major parties—Congress, NCP, BJP and Shiv Sena individually, with Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena trying to emerge as the X factor in the keenly watched contest. The Congress-NCP combine has been ruling the state for 15 years.
Modi addressed 27 rallies, rare by a Prime Minister in a state Assembly election, in the absence of a BJP leader with pan-Maharashtra appeal, following the death of Union Minister Gopinath Munde in a car crash soon after Lok Sabha polls.
Haryana also witnessed a a high pitched campaign by Modi with an aim of bringing BJP to power in the state on its own for the first time and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to ensure a third term for the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government in the state.
About 1.63 crore voters, including 87.37 lakh women are eligible to vote at 16,357 polling stations to seal the fate of 1,351 candidates, including 109 women. Modi criss-crossed Haryana addressing 11 election meetings at Sirsa, Gurgaon, Jind, Jagadhari, Sonipat and Rohtak.
The INLD campaign was led by former Chief Minister and party supremo Om Parkash Chautala, who was out on bail on health grounds after being imprisoned in Tihar Jail at New Delhi in the teachers recruitment scam.
Chautala's outing was cut short after the CBI approached the Delhi High Court, saying that the INLD chief was violating the bail terms by addressing election meetings. The INLD leader was asked to surrender before the Tihar Jail authorities and he was back in prison on Saturday evening.
Counting of votes will be taken up on Sunday.