65% turnout in Haryana, dip from last assembly polls

Voters stand in a queue and show their voting cards as they wait to cast their votes at a polling station for the Haryana Assembly elections, at Badkal in Faridabad, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Haryana on Monday recorded a voter turnout of 65 per cent in the assembly polls, a sharp drop from the 2014 elections which brought the BJP to power in the state.

Seven people were hurt in stone-pelting between two groups in a Nuh village and there were “minor incidents” in Rohtak, Narnaul and Bahadurgah districts, police said. But they maintained that polling over the 90 assembly constituencies was largely peaceful.

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The turnout was less than the 76.54 percentage in the 2014 assembly elections and the 70.36 per cent recorded over the state’s 10 parliamentary constituencies in the Lok Sabha elections this year.

Currently, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has 48 members in the state assembly and the Congress 17.

Prominent figures in a field of 1,169 contestants include Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, former Congress CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Jannayak Janta Party leader Dushyant Chautala and Indian National Lok Dal’s Abhay Singh Chautala.

Haryana ministers including Ram Bilas Sharma, Anil Vij, Capt Abhimanyu, O P Dhankar and Kavita Jain are also in fray for the BJP.

Congress bigwigs in the contest include Randeep Singh Surjewala, Kiran Choudhary, Ranbir Mahendra and Kuldeep Bishnoi

The BJP also fielded TikTok star Sonali Phogat and three sportspersons -- Babita Phogat, Yogeshwar Dutt and Sandeep Singh.

Haryana's ADGP (Law and Order) Navdeep Singh Virk tweeted, “Overall situation remained peaceful.”

Addressing reporters in the evening with Haryana's Chief Electoral Officer Anurag Agarwal, he said there were “minor incidents of clashes” in Nuh, Rohtak and Narnaul districts. Altogether, 13 FIRs were registered.

He said there were two incidents of firing in Nuh district during the day, but these were not poll-related.

Seven people, including a woman, were hurt when supporters of a village sarpanch and a former headman clashed outside a polling booth in Malaaka village in Nuh district in Mewat region, police said.

Nuh Superintendent of Police Sangeeta Kalia said an argument broke out between the two local leaders, and this was followed by stone-pelting.

“However, the polling process was not hampered," she said.

There were reports of minor fights taking place between the supporters of the BJP and the Congress in Rohtak and Bahadurgarh districts.

The BJP led by Khattar had set a target of winning 75 of the 90 assembly seats in the state, where the Congress is struggling to make a comeback. Ten-month old JJP, which came into existence following a split in the Chautala clan, emerged as a key contender in the polls.

The INLD-Shiromani Akali Dal combine, Aam Aadmi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Loktantra Suraksha Party and Swaraj India also contested, though none of them fought all 90 seats.

The BJP had made the nullification of Article 370 and nationalism major poll issues. It also told voters that the Khattar government had provided a clean and transparent administration.

Congress and other opposition parties targeted the BJP government over unemployment, law and order and the condition of farmers.

Glitches were reported with electronic voting machines (EVMs) at a few booths, including in Tohana, but they were promptly rectified and polling was not affected, officials said.

JJP leader Dushyant Chautala alleged that “bogus votes” were cast at a booth in Dumerkha Kalan village in Jind district in connivance with a police official.

Polling was brisker in rural pockets than in the urban areas at many places.

A high turnout was recorded in Naraingarh (74), Mulana (72), Sadhuara (74), Jagadhri (73), Radaur (68.20), Ladwa (71), Kaithal (74), Tohana (80), Tosham (70), Meham (70), Ellenabad (70), and Garhi Sampla-Kiloi (68).

But Karnal, from where Chief Minister M L Khattar is seeking re-election, recorded a modest turnout of 50 per cent.

Other constituencies that recorded a relatively lower polling percentage are Panipat City (45), Rohtak (54), Nilokheri (57), Hisar (54), Adampur (60), Gurgaon (52) and Faridabad (48).

Election Commission officials said the figures are provisional and may change slightly when they are tabulated.

In Shahbad near Kurukshetra, a Sikh groom cast his vote before solemnising his marriage.

Haryana's lone woman minister Kavita Jain, her husband and BJP leader Rajiv Jain and their two children, both first time voters, were among the early voters in Sonipat.

Khattar travelled by the Jan Shatabdi train from Chandigarh to Karnal, from where he is seeking re-election. He then took an e-rickshaw and rode a bicycle to reach the polling booth.

In Sirsa, Dushyant Chautala rode a tractor to reach the polling booth with his wife Meghna and MLA-mother Naina Chautala.

Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda cast his vote along with his family members in his constituency in Garhi Sampla-Kiloi in Rohtak. 

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