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Brisk ballotting in Haryana; BJP, INLD confident

Chandigarh, Oct 15 (IANS) Heavy polling took place Wednesday across Haryana in the election to the state assembly, perking up the BJP’s hopes to come to power on its own and the INLD too exuding confidence. The Congress, looking for the third term, however, did not look downcast.

The voter turnout in the elections to 90 assembly seats Wednesday was heavy, over 72 percent of Haryana’s 1.63 crore voters exercising their franchise till 6 p.m. Minor clashes reported at about 10 places marred the otherwise peaceful polling.

Scores of people were still queued up to cast their votes. Election officials said all voters who had lined up till 6 p.m. will be allowed to cast their votes.

“Voters were still queued up at polling stations and the poll percentage would go up. It could be a new voting record,” an election department official here told IANS.

The main contest is between the ruling Congress, the main opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP, which is contesting the assembly polls in the state on its own for the first time, was upbeat about the high turnout so far, saying that the voters wanted a change.

“The BJP is all set to form the next government in Haryana on its own. We will get a clear majority and end the rule of scams and corruption,” BJP leader Abhimanyu said.

Senior BJP leader Anil Vij said: “The BJP will win at least two-thirds seats in the assembly. The party will form the government with full majority.”

However, incumbent Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who cast his vote in his native village and was looking forward to forming the government for the third consecutive term, was not willing to give up easily.

“Seeing the response of the voters, I can say that the Congress will win the elections and form the government for a third term,” Hooda said.

The opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) said that the heavy turnout was an indication that the party (INLD) was going to form the next government in the state.

“We will form the next government. The voters will reply to the conspiracy against the INLD by the Congress and the BJP,” INLD leader Abhay Chautala said.

The NCR areas of Faridabad and Gurgaon recorded a relatively lower turnout, respectively of 58 and 66 percent.

The balloting will decide the fate of 1,351 candidates, including 116 women. The election results will be known Sunday (Oct 19) after vote count.

Minor clashes were reported at about 10 places, mostly between workers of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), leaving some people injured. At one place in Sirsa district, INLD workers clashed with former minister Gopal Kanda and his supporters and damaged an SUV.

A clash took place between BJP and INLD workers in Baansgaon of Narnaund assembly constituency in Hisar district. BJP candidate Abhimanyu alleged that INLD workers captured the polling booth and stopped the webcast from there. Another clash was reported from Barwala constituency in the same district.

In Sirsa district, an incident of firing was reported from Modiakhera village.

In Jind district, a clash took place between INLD and BJP workers in the high-profile constituency of Uchana Kalan. A poll official was allegedly manhandled here.

Another clash was reported from Punhana area in south Haryana.

Voting was impacted in Sikanderpur village in Pataudi constituency as an official told women to unveil their faces before voting, police said.

About 40 percent polling was reported from Haryana till 1 p.m.

Among the early voters Wednesday were the country’s richest woman Savitri Jindal, INLD candidates Naina Chautala and Dushyant Chautala, who is the Hisar MP, Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) president Kuldeep Bishnoi, union Minister of State Krishan Pal Gurjar and former union minister Venod Sharma.

Heavy ballotting was reported from majority of the booths. Voters patiently stood outside rural polling stations in most areas. At many urban polling booths also, brisk voting was reported.

Voters could be seen queued up at some polling stations even before the official start time of 7 a.m. Women voters were also seen lining up enthusiastically, especially in rural areas.

Polling across the state was held at 16,357 polling centres between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Most seats witnessed multi-cornered contests this time with other parties like Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), the newly floated Haryana Jan Chetna Party (HJCP), Haryana Lokhit Party (HLP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also being in the fray.

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