Rajasthan Assembly polls: Voting set to begin today at 8 am; 4.7 cr voters to decide fate of 2,274 candidates

After a high-decibel campaigning, Rajasthan is all set to elect a new state Assembly, voting which will take place on Friday. As many as 2,274 candidates including 187 women are in the fray for 199 out of the 200 assembly constituencies in the state.

According to election officials, polling will take place from 8 am to 5 pm on 7 December in 199 constituencies. The election in Alwar district's Ramgarh constituency has been postponed due to the death of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Laxman Singh.

According to the State Election Commission, there are 4,77,89,815 voters in the state among whom, 2,28,28,018 are female and 2,49,61,560 male voters. There are 1,16,944 service voters whereas 15 NRI electors and 222 third gender electors in the state.

Counting will take place on 11 December for Rajasthan and four other states Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram, taking part in this round of Assembly elections.

Elaborate security arrangements have also been made to ensure free and fair polls in the 51,965 polling stations in the state. According to sources, at least 650 companies have been called from outside. Additionally, 134 CRPF companies, 110 BSF companies, 103 CISF companies, 42 ITBP companies, 41 SSB companies and 45 companies of the RPF have been employed to maintain decorum during polling.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Polls likely to bipolar between BJP, Congress

Both the BJP and the Congress are locked in a tough fight in Rajasthan, which has not voted the same party to power for more than one term in the last 20 years. The contest is largely bipolar between the BJP and Congress in about 130 seats. A triangular contest may emerge in about 50 other seats, where rebel candidates from both the parties are in the fray, refusing to step down in favour of the official nominees. There are 830 independent candidates as well.

The BJP is contesting on all seats while the Congress has left five seats for its allies. The BSP has fielded 190 candidates, the CPM 28 and the CPI 16. In the current House, the BJP has 160 seats and the Congress 25.

Unemployment allowance, loan waiver among poll promises

The BJP and the Congress, over the course of their campaigns in the state, sparred over corruption, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's caste and Congress president Rahul Gandhi's ‘dynasty'. The campaigning ended in Rajasthan on Wednesday and saw Modi and Rahul taking digs at each other over Bharat Mata ki Jai slogans.

Modi addressed two rallies Wednesday, taking his total in the state to 12. BJP president Amit Shah said at a press conference in Jaipur on Wednesday that the party held 15 roadshows and 222 big meetings. Rahul Gandhi addressed nine public meetings.

In the BJP-ruled state, electioneering brought up issues like farmers' problems, corruption, and jobs for the youth. Both parties promised an unemployment allowance to the educated youth. The BJP promised 50 lakh jobs in the private sector in the next five years in Rajasthan, whereas 30,000 jobs will be given in the government sector every year. The Congress promised a loan waiver for farmers.

Key candidates

Incumbent chief minister Vasundhara Raje is contesting from her Jhalrapatan constituency, facing BJP veteran Jaswant Singh's son Manvendra Singh who has defected to the Congress. She is the BJP's chief ministerial nominee.

In Tonk, Sachin Pilot is up against Rajasthan transport minister and BJP candidate Yoonus Khan are in the contest. Khan is the only Muslim candidate fielded by the party. Former chief minister Ashok Gehlot is fighting for Sardarpura seat.

Jat leader Hanuman Beniwal has become a concern for both the parties, after founding the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party and fielding 58 candidates. He is eyeing the Jat vote in Shekhawati and Marwar regions and has used a helicopter to address more than 15 election rallies.

Other prominent candidates from Congress include famous Jat leader Rameshwar Lal Dudi who is contesting from Nokha, senior Congress leader and former state revenue minister Hemaram Choudhary from Gudha Malani, state vice-president Mahendra Jeet Singh Malviya from Bagidora, former state home minister Shanti Dhariwal from Kota.

From BJP, also in the fray are state heavyweights like state rural development minister Rajendra Rathore from Churu, Jaipur mayor Ashok Parnami from Adarsh Nagar, state women and child welfare minister Anita Bhadel from Ajmer South, and state home minister Gulab Chand Kataria from Udaipur.

Bahujan Samajwadi Party's 5-time MP and 2-time MLA, Lakshman Singh Chaudhary is contesting from Ramgarh.

Bitter campaigning comes to an end

During campaigning for the Rajasthan Assembly polls, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and several other Union ministers campaigned in the state, which the Bharatiya Janata Party is fighting to retain. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje crisscrossed Rajasthan traveling by road and air and addressing at least five meetings a day during the 58-day Rajasthan Gaurav Yatra, which started in August.

The Congress also fielded its state unit chief Sachin Pilot and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot in the campaign for the closely contested election. If the party wins, one of them could be the chief minister.

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati also campaigned in the state.

The campaign season was filled with controversies. Former Union minister and Congress candidate for the Nathdwara seat CP Joshi triggered a row over a casteist remark against Modi.

The prime minister was quick to raise the issue at his rallies, asking people, “Will you vote on the basis of my caste?” He insisted that development was the BJP's mantra. Modi repeatedly called Rahul Gandhi a naamdar (dynast), taking digs at the “four generations” of the Nehru-Gandhi family, claiming they neglected development.

The surgical strike against Pakistan was also an election theme at BJP meetings, while the Congress often raised alleged corruption in the Rafale military aircraft deal.

Modi, in turn, talked about “rampant corruption” during the Congress tenure. On the last day of electioneering, both Modi and BJP president Amit Shah highlighted the extradition of Christian Michel, the alleged mastermind in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, while campaigning against Congress.

The 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' slogan became an issue after Gandhi said Modi should instead begin his rallies with salutations to industrialists.

The Congress faced embarrassment over a video of Bikaner West candidate BD Kalla, who is purportedly seen stopping his supporters chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai', and then the party workers shout ‘Sonia Gandhi ki Jai'.

Click here to read more about the key candidates for the state polls

Click here for more information on key regions that will impact the polls. 

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Dec 07, 2018 06:59:05 IST

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