PTI |  October 15, 2014, 18.10 pm IST
Senior citizens coming out of polling both, show their inked finger after casting their vote in the Assembly elections in Mumbai on Wednesday. (Photo: PTI)

Senior citizens coming out of polling both, show their inked finger after casting their vote in the Assembly elections in Mumbai on Wednesday. (Photo: PTI)

Mumbai/Chandigarh: The fight for the state legislatures in Haryana and Maharashtra is being seen as a major test of PM Narendra Modi’s popularity after the Lok Sabha polls.

People were queuing at polling stations before the voting began at 7 am amid tight security to elect the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.

The riveting contest in the two states is being seen as the first major test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity after the Lok Sabha polls and he had spearheaded the BJP campaign in both the states.

Maharashtra: 64 percent voters exercise their franchise till 6pm

The highest voter turnout of 58.32 per cent was witnessed in Radhanagri constituency of Kolhapur district, while the lowest 13.61 per cent was in Ramtek seat of Nagpur district, till 1 PM, as per the statistics provided by the state electoral office.

About 8.35 crore voters will cast their votes while a total of 4,119 candidates are in the fray.

Prominent candidates who are in the fray are former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, former Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, former ministers R R Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal of NCP, BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis, Eknath Khadse, Vinod Tawde and Pankaja Munde, Shiv Sena leaders Subhash Desai, Suresh Jain and Deepak Kesarkar, former ministers Patangrao Kadam, Shivajirao Moghe and Rajendra Darda of Congress and Bala Nandgaonkar of MNS.

Of the 4,119 candidates in the electoral fray, 3843 are men and 276 women. Of the 288 constituencies, including 36 constituencies in Mumbai, 234 are general, 29 reserved for Scheduled Castes and 25 for Scheduled Tribes.

Nanded South has the maximum 39 candidates, while Akole and Guhagar have the minimum number at five candidates each.

Among Bollywood personalities who went to polling booths in Mumbai early today were actress Rekha, Jaya Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Amol Palekar and actor Atul Kulkarni. Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar also cast his vote.

While Congress leaders voiced confidence that people will again favour the party, BJP claimed that it was a vote for change and that ‘Modi effect’ will be visible in the election result.

Sharad Pawar’s NCP claimed that the BJP had not lived up to the expectations of the people after the mandate it got in Lok Sabh election and it will face the repercussions in Maharashtra.

“I am confident that people will choose Congress this time also for the work done in last 15 years,” Prithviraj Chavan said after casting his vote in Karad.

“There has been a change in the government at the Centre, major alliances have ended, and ll political parties are taking their chances in this poll,” he said.

I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar, who cast his vote in Pune, said, “People are voting for change, good governance and decisive government which Narendra Modi has offered.”

“People are voting in this poll with even more enthusiasm than they did in the Lok Sabha poll. If the Lok Sabha polls were Dhoom, the Assembly polls are Dhoom 2, the sequel,” he said.

Evading queries on possible post-poll alliance, BJP leaders claimed that the party will get complete majority “I am sure people of Maharashtra will ensure a BJP government comes to power in the state,” Fadnavis said after casting his vote in Nagpur.

Former chief minister Ashok Chavan cast his vote in Nanded. His wife Ameeta is Congress candidate from Bhokar in the district.

Technical problems in EVMs were reported from some polling booths in Nagpur city and Wardha district of in Vidarbha, and Sewree in Mumbai. Voters in a Nashik booth also complained that the voter rolls were not in order.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar cast his vote in Mumbai, which recorded a dismal 5.50 per cent, while adjoining Thane recorded 5.78 polling percentage in first two hours.

“There has always been a fair and transparent election in Maharashtra. I would request people to come out in good numbers. Your single vote can make a big difference. I believe our numbers will increase,” Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule said.

A BJP spokesman said two complaints of bogus voting in Kothrud area of Pune were registered with the election officers. Some voters in the city also complained of instant erasing of the indelible ink used to mark the voters.

Haryana: 73.4 per cent till 6 pm

Brisk polling was witnessed inmost of the key constituencies of Haryana on Wednesday from where top rung leaders are locked in contest.

Till 3.30 pm, voting percentage crossed the 60 per cent mark in these seats, according to Election officials.

At Garhi Sampla-Kiloi seat of Rohtak, from where two-time Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is seeking re-election, nearly 55 per cent voters had cast their vote till 3.30.

In Ellenabad constituency, from where INLD senior leader Abhay Singh Chautala is seeking re-election, the voter turnout was heavy at close to 70 per cent by 3.30 p.m.

In Kalanwali (SC) seat of Sirsa district, from where Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) has fielded its candidate, over 60 per cent voters had cast their votes in the first over eight hours.

In Uchana Kalan, where INLD’s Hisar MP Dushyant Chautala is contesting with BJP’s Prem Lata Singh, the voter turnout had exceeded 65 per cent during the same time period. The polling for all the 90 assembly seats began today at 7 a.m.

Haryana Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala’s constituency Kaithal was also witnessing a heavy voter turnout at over 60 per cent.

In Tosham in Bhiwani district, from where Haryana Minister Kiran Choudhary is seeking re-election, the turnout was at 62 per cent.

In Adampur in Hisar, from where HJC chief Kuldeep Bishnoi is contesting, the turnout had crossed 60 per cent. However, in places like Ambala City, where Jan Chetna Party chief Venod Sharma is seeking re-election, the turnout was 47 per cent.

Meanwhile, among the places where the voter turnout was moderate to low so far included Faridabad (44 per cent), Gurgaon (47 per cent) and Hisar City (43 per cent).

Ahead of the polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led an aggressive poll campaign for the BJP, which is for the first time seeking to come to power in Haryana on its own. The kin of the three famous ‘Lals’ (Bansi Lal, Bhajan Lal and Devi Lal) are also battling it out in the state. The highest number of 116 women contestants are in fray this time.

Constant vigil was being maintained on persons and vehicles in all border areas of Haryana. Teams of flying squads were patrolling to ensure smooth conduct of elections.