Chandigarh, Oct 21 : Sixty-five per cent of over 1.83 crore voters in Haryana turned out on Monday to elect 90 members to the state Assembly amidst minor skirmishes and snags in electronic voting machines (EVMs), officials said.
“The voter turnout was 65 per cent with chances of likely increase in the final figures,” Chief Electoral Officer Anurag Agarwal told IANS here.
Director General of Police Manoj Yadava said no poll-related violence was reported in the state. About six incidents of clashes outside polling booths were reported from Rohtak and Nuh districts.
“Minor technical snags were reported in EVMs in the state and teams were rushed to rectify the faults,” he said.
In Muslim-dominated Nuh in Mewat region, a woman was injured in a clash between two groups outside a polling booth in Malaaka village.
A senior police official told IANS that an argument broke out between a present ‘sarpanch’ and a former ‘sarpanch’ after which some of their supporters accompanying them clashed.
The Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) has accused BJP supporters of capturing a polling booth in Uchana Kalan. JJP candidate Dushyant Chautala claimed that he was attacked and pushed aside.
The election results would be out on October 24, coinciding with the Maharashtra Assembly election results.
To cast his vote, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar first travelled by Janshatabdi Express from Chandigarh to his hometown Karnal, took an e-rickshaw to reach his home from where he rode a bicycle to reach the polling booth that was located half a kilometre away from his residence.
“We went to the public (for votes), they accepted us and we are going to form the government again and with a good majority,” a confident Khattar told reporters in Karnal city, some 100 km from state capital Chandigarh.
Asked about travelling in a train, he replied: “I am a commoner and have come to vote as a common man.”
The Karnal constituency from where Khattar is re-contesting was among the seats that saw dismal poll percentage.
Two-time former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who cast his vote along with his wife Asha, son and former MP Deepender and daugther-in-law Sweta Mirdha, said the contest was only between the BJP and Congress and the latter would emerge victorious.
“The Jannayak Janata Party and Indian National Lok Dal are not factors, the contest is between Congress and the BJP only and the Congress will get the majority,” Hooda told the media in his hometown.
Hooda, also the Leader of Opposition, is re-contesting from his bastion Garhi Sampla-Kiloi in Rohtak district, mocked his arch rival Khattar for travelling by train to reach hometown Karnal.
“In the last five years he was travelling across the state in a helicopter. Now he has taken the train journey and then rode a bicycle to project himself as a commoner Chief Minister,” he added.
After casting his vote in Kaithal town, Congress national spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told the media that a huge public support reflect people’s overwhelming mood to give mandate in favour of the Congress in the state with a clear majority.
In Jat-dominated Sirsa, JJP leader Dushyant Chautala reached a polling booth driving a tractor. He was accompanied by his mother Naina Chautala and his wife.
Wrestler-turned-politician and BJP candidate from Dadri, Babita Phogat, cast her vote at her native village in Bhiwani along with father Mahavir Phogat and sister Geeta Phogat.
So did BJP’s wrestler candidate Yogeshwar Dutt in Sonipat district and former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh from Pehowa in Kurukshetra district.
All the three athletes are greenhorns and the BJP has never won the seats from where they are contesting.
Two villages in Phogat’s constituency boycotted polls owing to lack of civic amenities.
In his bastion Adampur constituency, Congress’ Kuldeep Bishnoi is facing a contest from BJP’s Tik-Tok star Sonali Phogat.
In Tohana, BJP’s state chief Subhash Barala is facing a tough fight from Congress’ Paramveer Singh.
A total of 1,169 candidates, including 105 women and a transgender, are in the fray.
While the BJP and the Congress are contesting on all 90 seats, the BSP is in the fray on 87 seats, and the INLD is contesting on 81 seats. There are some 375 candidates contesting as independents.
The state with 19,578 polling stations used 27,611 voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPATs) machines.
Political observers say the main contest is largely between the BJP and the Congress.
Riding high on pro-incumbency and the Modi wave, Khattar believes he will take his party’s tally to ’75 plus’ from the present 47 legislators, while Hooda of the Congress has been raising the pitch against unemployment, law and order and lack of development.
A total of 69.74 per cent of voters had cast their votes in the state in the Lok Sabha election in May.
In the 2014 Assembly polls, Haryana recorded the highest-ever turnout of 76.54 per cent.