EC deploys unprecedented security for assembly polls in three states

      The Election Commission of India (ECI) has made elaborate security arrangements to ensure free and fair polls in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday. The voting will be held in a single phase in all these states. As curtains dropped on the month long campaign for the assembly elections on Sunday evening, leaders of all political parties, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Opposition Leader L.K. Advani made a last attempt to woo voters by addressing rallies at different places. The Election Commission has banned the publication and dissemination of results of opinion and exit polls on assembly elections till the completion of the voting process on Tuesday evening. In Maharashtra, 82,028 polling booths have been set up for the 288 assembly seats, in Haryana12, 894 polling booths will choose 90 members to the state assembly and in Arunachal Pradesh, polling for all 57 seats will take place in 2,061 polling booths. For the Maharasthra Assembly, 3,559 contestants including 211 women and 1,820 Independents are in the fray. Most of the Independent candidates are rebels from the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and other parties. While in Haryana, 1,222 candidates, including 67 women and 461 Independents, are in the race. In Arunachal Pradesh Assembly, the polls will be held only for 57 out of 60 seats as the candidates of Tawang, Mukto and Lumla were elected unopposed. There are 154 candidates, including nine women and three Independents are in the fray. State Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu created a new record as he was re-elected unopposed from Tawang for the third consecutive time. The Election Commission has deployed four helicopters in Maoist affected Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district to transport men and material for the elections process. The Election Commission has also taken adequate security measures, including deployment of more central forces. The commission has also provided satellite phones to the election staff working in interior places of Maharashtra and Arunachal Pradesh. Counting of votes will take place on October 22. In 2004, Maharashtra Assembly polls Sharad Pawar led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) emerged as the single largest party with 71 seats. It had then teamed up with the Congress, which had won 69 seats, to form the government. The Shiv Sena and the BJP had come third and fourth, by winning 62 and 54 seats respectively. In 2005, Congress had swept the Haryana Assembly elections by winning 67 seats. Independents had won ten seats, while Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), had come third with nine seats. In Arunachal Pradesh, Congress was the clear winner in the 2004 assembly elections with 34 seats. The BJP had won nine seats while the NCP had won two seats but, they all switched sides to Congress in 2007, taking its total tally to 45. There was no opposition party in the state assembly as the Independents are associate members of the Congress.

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