Around 62% voters exercised their franchise in the elections to Haryana’s five municipal corporations of Hisar, Rohtak, Panipat, Karnal and Yamunanagar on Sunday. The elections to two municipal committees were also held in the State. The counting of votes will be taken up on December 19.Yamunanagar recorded the highest 65.2% turnout followed by Hisar (62.7), Rohtak (62.4), Panipat (62) and Karnal (61.8) as per the State Election Commission website. The municipal committees of Jakhal Mandi (Fatehabad) and Pundri (Kaithal) recorded 89.5% and 82.1% turnout respectively.The keenly fought corporation polls for direct election to the positions of Mayors for the first time in Haryana hold great significance for the regional and State politics and could be the reflection of the electorate’s mood in the State in the run-up to the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections due next year.Though the Congress has officially stayed out of the contest for the municipal bodies as a policy matter, the Independent Mayoral candidates supported by the local Congress leaders are locked in an intense direct electoral battle with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party candidates in all the five corporations. Fought on the home turfs of incumbent Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and two-time former Congress Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the contests for the positions of Mayors in Karnal and Rohtak respectively have turned into prestige battle for the two parties. In Rohtak, BJP’s Manmohan Goyal, a former Congressman, is involved in a direct contest with Congress-supported Sita Ram Sachdeva, a Punjabi. However, former AIDWA general-secretary and Bhim Awardee Jagmati Sangwan, the CPI (M) candidate supported by the Left parties, the Aam Aadmi Party and several social organisations, could emerge as a dark horse for the coveted post. The INLD-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance candidate Sanchit Nandal is the State’s youngest candidate for the position of Mayor from Rohtak.In Karnal, BJP candidate Renu Bala Gupta, a Baniya, is pitted against united Opposition with Congress leaders supporting the INLD-BSP’s alliance candidate Asha Wadhwa, a Punjabi, in a contest where caste seems to have taken precedence over the local issues.In Hisar, Rekha Aren, supported by former Congress Minister Savitri Jindal and Kuldeep Bishnoi, is engaged in a direct contest with BJP’s Gautam Sardana. Similarly, BJP’s Madan Chauhan is giving a tough fight to the Congressbacked Rakesh Sharma in a triangular fight involving INLD’s Sandeep Goyal in Yamunanagar.