The Election Commission of India (EC) on September 21 announced the polling schedule for Assembly elections in two states – Haryana and Maharashtra.
With the announcement, the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) also came into effect in the two states.
Jharkhand -- where the tenure of the sitting Legislative Assembly ends in December -- was widely expected to head for polls along with Haryana and Maharashtra. However, reports suggest that polls there would happen at a later date.
Important dates to watch out for in Haryana and Maharashtra:
> Issue of notification:
> Last date of nomination:
> Scrutiny of nominations:
> Last date of withdrawal of candidature: October 7
> Voting: October 21
> Counting of votes: October 24
The tenure of the sitting Haryana Legislative Assembly will end on November 2, while that of Maharashtra Assembly will end on November 9.
The total number of elected representatives in the Haryana and Maharashtra assemblies are 90 and 288, respectively.
The EC will set up 95,473 polling stations for over 8.95 crore voters in Maharashtra. About 19,425 polling stations will be set up for nearly 1.83 crore voters in Haryana.
All election-related exercises are likely to conclude before Diwali.
Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) will be used along with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) at every polling station.
The EC has directed that at least one polling station will be managed exclusively by women per Assembly constituency. In such stations, all election staff, including police and security personnel, must be women.
Lowdown on the political situation
In Maharashtra, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is aiming to retain power. The BJP is likely to contest in an alliance with its traditional partner Shiv Sena, led by Uddhav Thackeray. Some smaller parties are also expected to be a part of the alliance.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is being challenged by an alliance of Indian National Congress and Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). They are also likely to have some smaller parties on board.
In Haryana, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP is hoping to retain power. They are facing the Congress, led by former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Kumari Selja.
BJP will also face regional parties like the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP). It is unclear if an opposition alliance will come up in the state.