Assembly polls: Campaigning ends, BJP upbeat

Haryana, Maharashtra to vote on October 21; counting on October 24.

New Delhi: Campaigning for Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly polls ended on Saturday, with the Bharatiya Janata Party confident of retaining power in both states where it continued to play the nationalism card and accused the Opposition, in particular the Congress, of failing to honour its promise to abrogate Article 370.

It also repeatedly accused the Congress of “destroying the country” with wrong policies and strategy.

Despite sluggish economic indicators and high rate of unemployment, the Opposition parties’ campaign strategy failed to corner the BJP over these critical issue. In both the states, the Opposition camp remains divided, a repeat of the Lok Sabha elections, which saw the BJP not just retaining power, but gaining more parliamentary seats than 2014.

While abrogation of the contentious Article 370, implementation of the National Register for Citizens and attack on Pakistan were some of the high points in the BJP’s leaders’ campaign, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress’ campaign lacked enthusiasm.

Voting for Maharashtra’s 288 Assembly seats and Haryana’s 90 Assembly seats will be held on October 21 and the results will be declared on October 24. Along with these two states, bypolls will be held in 64 Assembly seats and two Lok Sabha seats — Samastipur in Bihar and Satara in Maharashtra.

While Mr Modi addressed more than 16 rallies in both the states, Congress working president Sonia Gandhi did not campaign. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi held seven public meetings in both the states.

Maharashtra’s chief minister Devendra Fadnavis addressed around 40 rallies, while Haryana’s Manohar Lal Khattar addressed more than 30 rallies in their respective states. While almost the entire BJP leadership, including party president Amit Shah and many Union ministers and senior leaders, addressed a number of public rallies in both states, the Congress leadership was busy resolving factionalism.

In Maharashtra, where the BJP has strengthened its position in state politics as well as within the state alliance since 2014, the saffron party’s manifetso promised five crore jobs in the next five years and houses for all by 2022.

It also promised Bharat Ratna for Veer Savarkar, and social activists and social reformers Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule, that garnered the Opposition camp’s attention.

In Haryana, where the BJP formed its first government in 2014 and gave the Jat-dominated state its first non-Jat chief minister, its poll document emphasised on farmers, irrigation, minimum support price (MSP) for every crop and tested seeds of high-yielding variety, among other sops.

In both states, the Congress has been facing dissidence and public outbursts by some of its senior leaders, including former Haryana unit chief Ashok Tanwar and senior Maharashtra leader Sanjay Nirupam.

Apparently miffed over ticket distribution and appointments in the state organisational unit, Mr Tanwar quit the party.

In Maharashtra, senior Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam voiced dissatisfaction over ticket distribution and kept away from the election campaign.

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