Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections held on Monday saw voter turnouts of around 63 per cent and 65.75 per cent respectively. The Maharashtra turnout was almost matching the 63.38 per cent polling recorded in the last state elections in 2014, while Haryana saw a sharp drop as compared to the polls.
Prominent voters included RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, CM Devendra Fadnavis, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, former President Pratibha Patil and MNS chief Raj Thackeray in Maharashtra.
In Haryana, prominent figures in a field of 1,169 contestants include Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, former Congress CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Jannayak Janta Party leader Dushyant Chautala and Indian National Lok Dal's Abhay Singh Chautala. Haryana ministers including Ram Bilas Sharma, Anil Vij, Capt Abhimanyu, OP Dhankar and Kavita Jain are also in fray for the BJP. Congress bigwigs in the contest include Randeep Singh Surjewala, Kiran Choudhary, Ranbir Mahendra and Kuldeep Bishnoi. The BJP also fielded TikTok star Sonali Phogat and three sportspersons -- Babita Phogat, Yogeshwar Dutt and Sandeep Singh.
The exit polls after the voting ended predicted that the ruling BJP will comfortably win the Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana. The elections are the first since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections in May.
Senior journalists MK Venu and Aditi Phadnis joined News Nation’s special show to discuss the Maharashtra and Haryana elections with consulting editor Deepak Chaurasia. Excerpts:
Will Amit Shah-Narendra Modi pair break the record of Sergey Bubka?
Aditi Phadnis: Ukraine is far from India. There is no similarity between India and Ukraine. We have many challenges and many questions. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had recently said the Modi government was working with the poor and unprivileged section of society. I think there is truth in what he had said. I think this government is meeting people’s needs, if we talk from people’s perceptive.
Why is the economic capital of India, Mumbai, not voting on the issues of recession?
MK Venu: I am surprised too! For the last two months, newspapers headlines have been all about recession every day. In the stock market, 60 per cent of the companies are on the verge of closure. Close to 50 per cent of the companies saw a slowdown. But still people are voting for the BJP. It shows they still trust Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Will politics of Jat dominance end in Haryana with these elections?
Aditi Phadnis: The politics of Jat dominance may never end, but earlier Jats used to keep their caste in front, used to give them jobs, in return they would get something. It is over now, thanks to the honest politics by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. The land use industry is completely shut now.
The experiment that PM Modi made with Manohar Lal Khattar and Devendra Fadnavis proved to be right. What is the reason?
MK Venu: This is true! The experiment of Modi and Amit Shah proved to be right. They challenged dominant caste, Jats, in Haryana with Khattar. At the same time, in Maharashtra, they challenged Marathas with Fadnavis.
Is the ground completely clear for Modi? Where will the Opposition stand now?
Aditi Phadnis: It’s too early to predict. But still there is confusion about the leadership of the Congress. People are not sure who its leaders are. Without targeting anyone, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a recent press conference that ‘if you do not diagnose the disease, you will not be able to give the patient the right medicines’.
Has the Congress failed to gauge people's electoral pulse?
MK Venu: PM Modi is keeping his issues very clear among the public. Be it terrorism, surgical strikes or the Article 370. The Congress is not able to keep the issue of the country properly. Unemployment has increased the most. There has been such a slowdown in the auto sector. The worst condition is in Haryana. Had Rahul Gandhi given command to Bhupender Singh Hooda a year ago, the situation would not have happened today.
Did the Gandhi family ever witness such a bad situation before?
MK Venu: People are seeing the Congress as a confused party. The Congress has such big issues, especially economic slowdown, but it is not able to reach out to people properly. Congress leaders were not sharing the stage together in rallies. Whereas, the BJP and the Shiv Sena have come together and fought the elections together.