Which way will the wind blow in Haryana, Punjab, HP?

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Fresh from its Lok Sabha victory, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking to retain its bastions in Maharashtra and Haryana, while the Opposition is trying to take advantage of anti-incumbency. Votes for bypolls of as many as 51 Assembly seats and two Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 18 states have also been sealed.

In Haryana, where 65 per cent of the electorate came out to vote, a majority of exit polls have indicated a landslide victory for the Manohar Lal Khattar’s government. Except for Axis-India Today exit poll, which is predicting a neck to neck fight between the BJP and Congress, all others have given BJP anything between 50-66 seats. India Today exit poll has also predicted Jannayak Janta Party (JJP)to be playing the Kingmaker in the formation of the next government.

The bypoll to four seats in Punjab is also interestingly placed. While Jalalabad (78.8% polling was recorded) is considered a loyal bastion of Shiromani Akali Dal and the elections here have been necessitated after the election of Sukhbir Singh Badal to the Lok Sabha, it is Dakha where the stakes of Capt Amarinder Singh are particularly higher as the party has fielded Capt Sandeep Sandhu as its candidate.

On the other hand, the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, where bypolls were held to two Assembly seats, recorded nearly 69 per cent polling. These bypolls are being considered a litmus test for Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, as the ruling BJP looked at not only retaining the seats but also increasing the margin.

The opposition Congress, on the other hand, is hopeful to win the two seats, as it feels the BJP candidates from Pachhad and Dharamshala had won with a narrow margin.

The byelections to Pachhad and Dharamshala assembly seats were necessitated after sitting BJP MLAs Suresh Kashyap and Kishan Kapoor were elected to the Lok Sabha this May. Pachhad saw nearly 73 per cent voting, whereas 65.39 per cent voters exercised their franchise in Dharamshala.

The results of the elections will be announced on October 24.

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