Maha, Arunachal, Haryana elections announced
Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh will go to polls on October 13 to elect new assemblies. Counting of votes will take place on October 22 when the results of the first trial of strength post-Lok Sabha polls will emerge as all three states are ruled by Congress. The stakes are high in Haryana where the Congress has called early polls and considerable in Maharashtra where it will seek a third term in office in partnership with the NCP. In both states, the Congress is looking at a divided and demoralised Opposition to help buck incumbency. The incumbency factor is particularly high in Maharashtra where the state government has not been seen as a standout performer. The ruling coalition has often pulled in different directions and issues like power cuts and the drought can well be factors. But the Shiv Sena had been hurt by Raj Thackeray’s MNS in the Lok Sabha polls and the Congress hopes it will do the same again. The internal eruptions in the BJP after the Lok Sabha polls have made its leaders look like a crew that can’t shoot straight and the party has lost credibility. There are fears in the BJP that turmoil will affect its prospects even though Maharashtra leaders speak of closer cooperation and coordination with the Sena this time around. Haryana, though a smaller state, has a significance in terms of its proximity to Delhi. But the state looks rather “safe” from the Congress’s point of view as the opposition to the ruling party is splintered. The INLD-BJP pact has broken up. With Bhajan Lal’s Haryana Janhit Congress and the BSP teaming up, the non-Congress vote may split three ways. “The poll in these states will be conducted at all polling stations using electronic voting machines (EVMs),” chief election commissioner Navin Chawla said on Monday while announcing the schedule for the assembly polls. Dismissing all doubts about the functioning of EVMs, he said, “They are functioning properly and we have no doubts from our side.” While the term of the Arunachal Pradesh assembly is to expire on October 24, the Maharashtra assembly’s term will end on November 3. Though Haryana had nearly six months time, it decided to go for early polls by dissolving the assembly on August 21. Maharashtra has a 288-member assembly with 29 seats being reserved for SCs and another 25 for STs. While Haryana has a 90-member House (SC—17), Arunachal Pradesh has 60 seats with 59 of them being reserved for STs. Addressing a joint press conference along with election commissioners S Y Quraishi and V S Sampath, Chawla said the code of conduct had come into force with immediate effect. “All provisions of the model code will apply to the whole of the three states and will be applicable to all candidates, political parties, the state governments concerned and the Union government from today,” he said. Advising the electors who have so far not got their Elector Photo Identity Card (EPIC), the CEC said all such electors must obtain their EPIC from the Electoral Registration Officers of their assembly constituencies. The CEC said all steps had been taken to provide security in the three states, including Naxalite affected areas in Maharashtra.