After remaining sluggish for the most part of the day, voting gathered pace in Maharashtra in the afternoon, with the polling percentage crossing 55% by 6pm.
Voters in Mumbai came out to exercise their right in the afternoon taking the polling percentage in the capital to 48% till 5pm, according to reports.
Haryana was heading towards registering an all-time record high turnout, with over 72% voters having cast their votes shortly before close of polling at 6pm.
In 1967, maximum polling of 72.65% had taken place while in 1968 minimum polling of 57.26% was registered. In 2009 polls, 72.37% polling was recorded.
The state had a very slow start in the morning especially in the urban areas. Stray incidents of violence marked the assembly polls in Haryana leaving 32 persons including 10 policemen injured.
While longer queues were seen in rural areas in Maharashtra , the low turnout in urban areas , especially in the rural areas prompted political leaders and celebrities to appeal to people to come out and vote. Report of some violence came from Maharashtra too as a group of Maoists opened fire on a polling party at Maskipalli in Chamorshi tehsil in Gadchiroli district. “The policemen posted at the polling centre promptly returned the fire and the encounter is still going on,” Gadchiroli police PRO said. Further details are awaited.
Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, and film actors Salman Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Rekha and Bomman Irani came out to vote in the morning, and urged Mumbai’s citizens to come out in larger numbers.
“Go vote, ” tweeted Salman Khan, adding that people who were enjoying a picnic without going to vote would be the ones who would complain the most later on.
Among the political leaders in Maharashtra who have voted so far are Sharad Pawar, and Ajit Pawar from the NCP, Devendra Fadnavis from the BJP, former home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and MNS chief Raj Thackeray.
“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 all political parties are taking their chances in this poll,” he said.
Over the day, more than 10 crore people are expected to vote across 288 assembly constituencies in Maharashtra and 90 constituencies in Haryana.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted urging voters in both states to come out and vote. “Youngsters should show the way and ensure a high voter turnout,” he said
The polls are a major test as much of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal charisma as his party’s strategy to abandon long-standing allies in search of political majority in two key states.
Just ahead of the elections, the BJP snapped its 25-year old alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and parted ways with Kuldeep Bishnoi’s Haryana Janhit Congress in Haryana.
A victory will not only reaffirm Modi’s appeal with voters but also silence detractors of his new party leadership, which was blamed for a string of defeats in assembly by-elections that tempered the euphoria of his Lok Sabha triumph.
The vote will also test the mettle of some of the country’s most powerful regional parties such as the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in the western state as well as the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Haryana.
Both the chief ministers, Prithviraj Chavan in Maharashtra and Bhupinder Hooda in Haryana are battling strong anti-incumbency with corruption being a major poll issue.
Pre-poll surveys have put the BJP slightly ahead in the race.
Among the candidates who cast their votes early included chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in his home district of Rohtak. On the day of polling, Hooda looked relaxed and began his day by playing a game of badminton.
Others who cast their votes early included Haryana ministers Randeep Singh Surjewala (Kaithal), Savitri Jindal (Hisar), Geeta Bhukkal (Jhajjar), Ajay Singh Yadav (Rewari), BJP’s chief ministerial aspirant Capt Abhimanyu of the BJP (Narnaund in Hisar district) and INLD’s Naina Chautala (Sirsa).
The BJP has not named its chief ministerial candidate in either state.
Votes will be counted and results announced on Sunday.