Barring sporadic incidents of violence, in which one person was killed and several people, including two Border Security Force personnel, were injured, polling in the 90 Assembly constituencies in Haryana on Tuesday remained by and large peaceful.
Ninety-year-old Sultan died after suffering a heart attack while he was about to press the button on the electronic voting machine at a booth in the Kosli constituency.
Chief Electoral Officer of the State Sajjan Singh said over 69 per cent of the 1,31,73,011 voters exercised their franchise for the Assembly polls, which were held six months before they were due in February 2010.
The electoral fate of 1,222 candidates, belonging to the ruling Congress, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), other small parties and independents, was sealed on Tuesday.
Prominent candidates in the fray are: Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the former Chief Minister and INLD chief, Om Prakash Chautala, Finance Minister Birender Singh, HJC president Kuldeep Bishnoi and his mother Jasma Devi (wife of the former Haryana Chief Minister, Bhajan Lal), Power Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala, Tourism Minister Kiran Choudhary, Revenue Minister Savitri Jindal, Vidhan Sabha Speaker Raghubir Singh Kadian, INLD secretary-general Ajay Singh Chautala and the former Finance Minister, Sampat Singh.
A clash between the supporters of Congress nominee Dillu Ram and Independent Kulwant Bazigar outside a polling booth in Hemu Majra village in the Guhla Cheeka constituency resulted in the death of Jyoti Ram, Mr. Bazigar’s polling agent. But officials maintained that the cause of death would be known only after the post-mortem.
Security personnel opened fire in the air to disperse an unruly mob in Kharhar village outside a polling station in Jhajjar, but no one was said to be injured.
Two BSF personnel suffered injuries when they were stoned while trying to separate two clashing groups in Malai village of the Hathin constituency.
Seven persons, including a police officer and a relative of Education Minister Mange Ram Gupta, received head injuries when INLD and Congress supporters threw stones at each other outside a polling booth at the Hindu College in Jind. The police resorted to a lathi-charge to disperse the unruly crowd.
Four persons were injured in brick-batting in a clash between two groups in Jalalpur village in Panipat.
Mr. Sajjan Singh confirmed that one person was injured in firing during a clash between Congress and INLD workers at Neem Ka Thana village in the Firozepur Jhirka constituency.
Mr. Hooda, who exercised his franchise in his native Sanghi village in Rohtak district, asserted that the people had given a “fatwa” to the Congress to rule the State for a second term.
“The massive turnout is a reiteration of the faith of the people in the policies of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi. It is a ringing endorsement of our developmental, progressive, transparent and egalitarian governance. I take it as a massive vote for the Congress party for which I profusely thank the people of Haryana,” he said.
Interestingly, voters of Khohand village in the Gharaunda Assembly constituency of Karnal district decided to boycott the elections to protest against the failure of the police to trace a child of the village who was kidnapped recently. Residents of Balri village in Indri also boycotted the polls to protest against lack of development in their area.
Poll pundits said the heavy turnout, which was likely to cross 70 per cent, indicated that the voters preferred to renew the mandate given to the Hooda regime.