New Delhi, Oct 23 : With less than 24 hours for the EVM strongrooms to open and vote counting to begin, here is a list of the key candidates to watch out for in the Haryana and Maharashtra Assembly elections.
1. Devendra Fadnavis (Nagpur South West): He is the Chief Ministerial candidate, a posterboy of RSS and close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi - all the traits you need to taste success in BJP. Fadnavis, who is contesting from Nagpur South West is tipped to win handsome like in 2014. Recently, in a rally in Maharashtra, he stressed on the nature of one-sided fight saying, "The wrestler is ready, but no one to fight".
2. Aditya Thackeray (Worli): The first Thackeray to fight an election, Balasaheb's grandson is definitely a person to watch out for. The Sena wants to make him the Deputy CM face in Fadnavis government, which depends on the share of seats the two alliance partners can garner. Interestingly, moving from Sena's age old "Marathi First" outlook, Thackeray Junior reached out to different sections - Gujarati, Urdu-speaking communities in his constituency in Worli.
3. Ajit Pawar (Baramati): Once known to be in the shadow of Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar is fighting from Pawar stronghold Baramati. BJP's Gopichand Padalkar is fighting from the same constituency but defeating a Pawar in Baramati is as tough as defeating a Gandhi in Rae Bareli. He has been the focus of media for ED row but remained defiant all throughout the campaign.
4. Prithviraj Chavan (Karad South): The former Chief Minister of Maharashtra who is fighting from Karad South is definitely a key person to look out for. The Congress leader is however tipped to lose, according to News18-IPSOS exit poll. Prithviraj Chavan was challenged by BJP's Atulbaba Suresh Bhosale.
5. Ashok Chavan (Bhokar): Another former Chief Minister of the state and Congress leader is fighting from Bhokar constituency. During his rule, he has been mired in scandals. Now years later, even in 2019 Assembly election, his prospects aren't too glossy with News18-IPSOS exit poll predicting a loss for him.
6. Manohar Lal Khattar (Karnal): The CM face of BJP in Haryana, Khattar has evolved from a new kid on the block whose meetings were ill attended to the sole voice in Haryana BJP who commands respect, in the last 5 years. His day of poll was also unique when he travelled by train from Chandigarh to Karnal city, took an e-rickshaw to reach his home and then rode bicycle to reach the polling booth. He is tipped to be back with a huge margin.
7. Randeep Surjewala (Kaithal): A close confidante of former Congress President Rahul Gandhi and party's national spokesperson, Randeep Surjewala sought a fifth term as lawmaker, and is contesting from the Kaithal Assembly constituency but the News18-IPSOS exit poll claims that the senior Congress leader is up for a close fight from his Assembly seat. Surjewala is up against Leela Ram Gujjar who had been a former INLD member and has recently joined BJP.
8. Yogeshwar Dutt (Baroda): The famous wrestler and Olympic medallist is another face to look out for. He is unlikely to turn the BJP's fortunes in the tough seat of Baroda, where he is contesting against Congress candidate Sri Krishan Hooda who successfully contested in the 2009 and 2014 elections by defeating Kapoor Singh Narwal of INLD each time. An exit poll conducted by News18-IPSOS has projected that Dutt might lose.
9. Babita Phogat (Dadri): Another wrestler from Haryana, Babita holds two Commonwealth medals and has contested from Dadri seat in Haryana on BJP's ticket. She joined the saffron fold amid much fanfare. However like Dutt, the exit poll has projected her to be on the losing side. She is facing Nripendera Sangwan of the Congress and Somveer Sangwan, a former BJP candidate who contested as an independent.