The Election Commission (EC) on Saturday announced the schedule for elections in Maharashtra and Haryana at a media briefing in the national capital. While the polling will take place across on 21 October counting for both the states will happen on 24 October.

Both the states will witness elections in single phase. EC announced that the date of notification is on 27 September, last date of nomination is on 4 October, scrutiny will take place on 5 October while the last date of withdrawal of candidature is 7 October.

The model code of conduct (MCC), which provides a level playing field in elections, comes into effect immediately with the announcement of the schedule, chief election commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora informed.

The elections are crucial as it is the first set of assembly elections since the Lok Sabha polls in May where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to power with a thumping majority.

BJP is in power in both Maharashtra and Haryana. While Haryana will see a direct contest between BJP and Congress, Maharashtra will be a clash of alliances of ruling BJP-Shiv Sena taking on Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance.

The current tenure of Maharashtra legislative assembly, which has 288 seats, ends on 9 November while Haryana, which has 70 seats, ends on 2 November.

In Maharashtra, Congress and NCP have announced a seat sharing arrangement contesting 125 seats each and leaving the rest for its smaller allies. The BJP-Shiv Sena are yet to formally announce their seat sharing and are still in talks over the issue. Modi launched party's campaign in the state from a political rally in Nashik on Thursday and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is leading party's campaign in the state.

In Haryana, Congress is battling internal rivalries and party chief Sonia Gandhi recently effected a change of guard in the state appointing Kumari Shailja as the chief of the party and giving greater organisational responsibilities to former chief minister Bhupendra Singh Hooda. BJP under chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar in Haryana is looking for a comeback.

In 2014 elections, BJP won 47 seats in Haryana limiting Congress to only 15. Similarly, in Maharashtra, Congress had won 42 seats in the 2014 assembly elections, the NCP had secured 41. BJP and Shiv Sena, which had not formed a pre-poll alliance but had joined hands after the results, had won 185 seats together.

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