Madhya Pradesh is all set to vote on Wednesday to elect a 230-member Assembly, two days after acrimonious campaigning for the high-stakes polls ended.
As many as 2,907 candidates are in the fray. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi were the star campaigners for BJP and Congress respectively and addressed a number of poll rallies across the state.
National and state issues, including the Rafale deal, demonetisation, development, GST, corruption, dynastic politics and the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government's performance, among others, prominently figured in their speeches.
Key candidates and constituencies
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is the BJP's chief ministerial face for the fourth time in a row and is contesting from his traditional Budhni seat in Sehore district.
Two most prominent self-proclaimed 'farmer-sons' Chouhan and former Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Arun Yadav are pitted against each other in the high-profile Budhni seat from where the present chief minister contested his first Assembly election in 1989-90.
Though Yadav belongs to Khargone district in Nimar region of the western Madhya Pradesh, he has been fielded by the Congress from Budhni this time to challenge Chouhan on his home turf.
While Chouhan has called Yadav a "scapegoat", the Congress leader is leaving no stone unturned by way of what he calls his expose of tall claims of development in the high-profile constituency.
Another BJP stalwart and minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia is contesting from Shivpuri seat for the fourth time, while former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's nephew Anoop Mishra is fighting from Bhitarwar in Gwalior district.
Public Relations Minister Narottam Mishra (Datia), former IPS officer Rustam Singh (Morena), ex-Opposition leader Choudhary Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi (Bhind) are other prominent candidates.
Digvijaya Singh's son Jaivardhan is contesting from his forte Raghogarh for the second time in a row, while his brother Laxman Singh is trying his luck from Chanchoda seat.
Former Goa governor and ex-king of Narsinghgarh, late Bhanu Pratap Singh's son and former MLA Rajyavardhan Singh is contesting on BJP ticket from his erstwhile kingdom Narsinghgarh.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijywargiya's son Akash is contesting his maiden election from Indore-3 seat against the former Congress MLA Ashwin Joshi. This contest has also become prestigious for both the BJP and the Congress.
Former Union minister Kantilal Bhuria's son Dr Vikrant Bhuria is contesting his maiden election from tribal Jhabua seat, while another medical practitioner Dr Hiralal Alawa is testing political waters for the first time on a Congress ticket from Manawar seat in tribal Dhar district.
Among prominent women candidates, Archana Chitnis is contesting from Burhanpur seat while former Bhopal mayor Krishna Gaur, daughter-in-law of former minister Babu Lal Gaur, is contesting from Gaur's traditional seat Govindpura in Bhopal district.
Former Uminister and senior Congress leader Suresh Pachouri is pitted against sitting MLA and minister Surendra Patwa in Bhojpur seat of Raisen district.
Former Union minister Sartaj Singh, who left BJP on denial of party ticket and joined Congress, is contesting against Assembly speaker Dr Sitasharan Sharma from Hoshangabad seat.
The prestige of the state Congress president Kamal Nath as well as of the state BJP president Rakesh Singh is at stake as both hail from Mahakoushal region.
Rakesh Singh is an MP from Jabalpur Lok Sabha seat while Nath is a long time member of the lower House of Parliament from Chhindwara.
Former health director Dr KL Sahu is contesting from newly floated outfit SAPAKS Samaj Party from Bhopal South West constituency.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) state head and IIT alumni Alok Agrawal is also contesting from Bhopal South West seat. Alok is the chief ministerial face of AAP in Madhya Pradesh.
Among six transgenders contesting the polls, prominent are former MLA Shabnam Mousi, who is fighting from Kotma seat in Anooppur district, and Neha Kinnar from Ambab seat in Morena district.
The bitter campaigning in Madhya Pradesh saw BJP and Congress engage in some nasty mud-slinging.
Modi and Rahul freely exchanged barbs and traded charges, raising the political temperature in the central state.
In the final days of electioneering, Modi crisscrossed the state and addressed 10 public meetings.
Rahul, during his whirlwind electioneering tour of the state, held 12 public meetings and roadshows this month.
Amit Shah camped in Madhya Pradesh, where he addressed public meetings and held roadshows. The BJP chief held a roadshow in Indore hours before the campaigning ended.
Besides Modi, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Smriti Irani also addressed rallies in support of BJP candidates.
During the electioneering, Rahul announced his party will waive the loans of farmers in 10 days of coming to power.
Modi, speaking at one of his rallies, said farmers were in debt due to the "wrong policies" of the previous Congress governments and maintained the Centre was working on doubling income of cultivators by 2022.
The BJP primarily focused on the 10-year "misrule" of former Congress chief minister Digvijaya Singh and listed the achievements under Chouhan.
The ruling party said Madhya Pradesh shed the 'BIMARU' (laggard) tag under Chouhan and saw all-round development under his leadership.
A purported video of Kamal Nath on Muslim votes went viral during the last leg of electioneering with the BJP accusing the main Opposition party of dividing society for electoral gain.
Security arrangements in place
More than 1.80 lakh security personnel were deployed ensure peaceful polling.
As many as 2,899 candidates, including 1,094 independents, are in the fray for the 230 seats. The state has 5.04 crore eligible voters.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) VL Kantha Rao said, "All preparations for the Wednesday polling have been completed. All polling parties have left for their respective booths and most of them have reached their destination".
He said polling will be held from 8 am to 5 pm in 227 seats, while in three Assembly segments in Naxal-affected Balaghat district — Lanji, Paraswada and Baihar — voting time will be from 7 am to 3 pm.
Rao said 3,00,782 government employees, including 45,904 women, have been deployed on poll duty across the state, where 65,341 polling stations have been set up.
The CEO said 17,000 of these polling booths have been declared 'sensitive' and additional vigil will be maintained there.
As many as 1.80 lakh security personnel, including those drawn from central paramilitary forces, have been deployed to ensure free and fair poll, Rao said.
"Special measures have been taken for sensitive booths. Webcasting will be held from 6,500 polling stations, while videography will be carried out at 4,600 booths," he said.
Rao said 78,870 EVMs will be used during the poll.
He said differently-abled employees will manage 160 booths, while 3,046 polling centres will have all-women staff.
"As many as 40,487 vehicles, including 9,600 buses and 8,500 mini buses are being used in the polling process," Rao said.
"The candidates include 1,794 from general category, 591 from Scheduled Castes and 514 from Scheduled Tribes. The highest number of seven female candidates are contesting from Chhatarpur, where 16 candidates are in the fray," Rao said.
"The highest number of candidates — 34 — are in the fray in the Mehgaon constituency in Bhind district, while the lowest — 4 — are at Gunnor in Panna district," he said.
According to the final electoral roll, the state has 5,04,95,251 voters — 2,63,01,300 males, 2,41,30,390 females, 1,389 third gender and 62,172 postal electors.
The BJP is contesting all the 230 seats, while the Congress has fielded 229 candidates, leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for its ally: Sharad Yadav's Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD). The BSP has fielded 227 candidates, while the SP is contesting on 52 seats.
AAP, contesting the Madhya Pradesh elections for the first time, has fielded 208 candidates.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Nov 28, 2018 07:28:09 IST