Congress, rivals exude confidence as Haryana readies for poll


Chandigarh : Poll officials and security personnel took positions, many schools and colleges closed early for Diwali break, and bars were shut down Monday as Haryana readied for Tuesday’s assembly election — both the ruling Congress and the main opposition parties exuding confidence about winning.

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Voting for the 90-member assembly poll will take place Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Haryana’s chief electoral officer Sajjan Singh said.

The election is being seen as a test for Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, whose government got the previous assembly dissolved seven months before its term ended and sought a fresh mandate.

The Congress had won nine out of 10 Lok Sabha seats in the May parliamentary election.

“We will come back to power comfortably,” Hooda said after campaigning ended Sunday evening.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi addressed two rallies at Nuh (Mewat) and Jhajjar Sunday to end the poll campaign of the ruling party. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi also addressed election rallies in Haryana last week.

The main opposition, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), held its last big rally Sunday at Uchana Kalan in Jind district from where INLD president and former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala is contesting.

The Congress is being challenged by opposition INLD, Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

“The wave for change is clearly there. The INLD will form the next government in Haryana,” INLD chief Chautala said.

The opposition is a divided house in Haryana this time. The INLD-BJP and the HJC-BSP alliances broke down before the assembly poll. The BJP and the HJC also failed to reach an electoral agreement.

Important seats and personalities in this assembly poll include Garhi Sampla-Kiloi (Rohtak district) from where the chief minister is seeking re-election.

From Uchana Kalan (Jind), Om Prakash Chautala (INLD) has a tough contest against Congress candidate and Haryana’s finance minister Birender Singh.

Chautala is also contesting the Ellenabad seat in Sirsa district.

HJC chief Kuldeep Bishnoi is contesting the Adampur seat (Hisar) while his mother Jasma Devi, wife of former chief minister Bhajan Lal, is contesting the Nalwa seat (Hisar) against former finance minister Sampat Singh.

Sale of liquor in shops, hotels, restaurants and bars has been banned from 5 p.m. Sunday till 5 p.m. Tuesday on the orders of the Election Commission.

Nearly 70,000 government officials and about 65,000 security personnel will be on duty to ensure the smooth conduct of the election.

Haryana has an electorate of over 13 million – 7.1 million men and 5.9 million women. The highest number of voters are in the Gurgaon assembly constituency — over 231,000 voters. In a span of just five months, nearly 1.1 million new voters have been added to the voter list in Haryana, officials said.

“During the latest revisions after the May general elections, 1,094,273 new voters have been added in Haryana. Majority of these new voters are in the Gurgaon and Badshahpur constituencies,” state’s Chief Electoral Officer Sajjan Singh told IANS here Monday.

“The electorate comprises 13,113,011 voters – 7,147,100 men and 5,965,911 women. A total of 16,227 EVMs (electronic voting machines) will be used in the polls and we also have additional stocks of machines in case of any emergency,” he said.

“Out of the total of 13,524 polling stations, 3,214 have been declared sensitive by the district commissioners and senior police officials. Micro-observers will be positioned and the whole voting process will be recorded in cameras at all sensitive booths,” Singh said.

The maximum number of sensitive booths are in Bhiwani district (249) and the minimum in Panchkula district.

Ample police force and para-military forces will be present to ensure free and fair polling by the administration, Singh said.

“Over 65,000 police personnel will be deployed on election duty tomorrow (Tuesday). Besides 68 companies of para military forces will be stationed especially at the sensitive areas. In the May Lok Sabha elections, there were only 53 companies of para military force deployed in Haryana,” said Singh.

Counting of votes will take place Oct 22.