Maharashtra assembly elections 2019: BJP-Sena will register a record-breaking victory, says Nitin Gadkari

Voting began on Monday morning in Maharashtra and Haryana where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to win a second term. There are 288 assembly seats in Maharashtra where BJP is contesting in an alliance with the Shiv Sena. In Haryana, there are 90 seats.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Piyush Goyal, and Ajit Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party were among those who cast their votes in the morning. “The BJP-Sena will have a record-breaking victory and Fadnavis will be the chief minister again,” said transport minister Gadkari.

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Railways minister Piyush Goyal, who voted in Mumbai, said that people of Maharashtra will once again opt for the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CM Devendra Fadnavis. “I am confident that the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance will win around 225 seats. The people are with Modi ji and Fadnavis ji. The opposition has lost all credibility,” Goyal told reporters after casting his vote.

The BJP is banking on PM Modi’s popularity and Fadnavis’ emergence as a tall leader to sail through in Maharashtra. BJP is contesting on 150 of the 288 seats in Maharashtra while the Shiv Sena has put up candidates in 124 seats. 14 candidates of the NDA’s other alliance partners are fighting on BJP’s poll symbol— lotus.

PM Modi tweeted urging people to turnout in large numbers and exercise their right to vote. “Elections are taking place for Haryana and Maharashtra assemblies. There are also by-polls taking place in various parts of India. I urge voters in these states and seats to turnout in record numbers and enrich the festival of democracy. I hope youngsters vote in large numbers,” PM Modi tweeted.

The assembly polls will also indicate if the popularity of the BJP is still intact among the masses and if the Congress has recovered from the drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won a majority in the parliamentary polls with BJP alone winning 303 seats. The Congress managed to win just 52.

These state polls are significant because they are being held after the government decided to nullify Article 370 of the constitution that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The state of J&K was divided into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

In Haryana, where chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is seeking a second term, BJP faces a Congress party that is faction-ridden.

The differences between Jat strongman and former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Ashok Tanwar, the former state Congress chief, were out in the open in the weeks leading to the polls. The BJP won 47 seats in Haryana in the 2014 and has set itself a a target of 75-plus this time.

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