Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India], Dec 6 (ANI): Rajasthan, the land of deserts, is all geared up for Friday's poll to the 199 assembly seats out of 200 with a major battle in show between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.
The tug of war with a total of 2, 274 candidates in the fray will begin at 8 am and continue till 5 pm. Elections will take place at 51,667 polling stations where 4,74,79,402 people are eligible to cast vote. Alwar constituency polling has been countermanded following the death of a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate.
The fight is to win a target of at least 101 seats to achieve majority mark in the intense polling between the two national parties. In 2013 assembly elections, BJP won the mandate with 163 seats while Congress was reduced to 21 seats. Contrast it to 2008 elections, when the Congress won 96 seats, a gain of 40 seats over 2003 polls and the BJP plummeted to 78, down by 42 seats from the previous assembly polls.
This year, Vasundhara Raje, the state's incumbent chief minister, is facing a tough fight from the Congress which has not left out any moment to tear into the state government over its various initiatives. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in his over 10 rallies across the state, has targeted the central government over MGNREGA, demonetisation, the farmers' crisis, lack of employment and press freedom.
On the one hand, Congress has kept its card close to the heart as far as chief ministerial candidate is concerned despite Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot and former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot are reportedly considered the main contenders.
On the other hand, BJP is pinning its hopes on Raje. In different rallies in the state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah have hailed Raje for her work and criticised Congress and its leaders for favouring the Gandhi family.
Besides Raje who is contesting from Jhalrapatan, other top contenders include state Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria from Udaipur, another Minister Rajendra Rathore from Churu, state party president Ashok Parnami from Adarsh Nagar and Anita Bhadel from Ajmer South.
On the other hand, Congress has former MP Rameshwar Lal Dudi from Nokha, Sachin Pilot from Tonk, Ashok Gehlot from Sardarpur and former Rajasthan minister Hemaram Choudhary from Gudha Malani.
Elaborating the arrangements made for the elections, Director General of Police OP Gehlotra said, "We had started preparations for the polls from June this year. I can confirm that Rajasthan elections will be held impartially and peacefully. Since June, we have taken into custody 2,11,869 warranties. We registered 3,695 cases under Arms Act and arrested 3,653 criminals and recovered 4,156 arms. In a record, we have taken into custody 10,07,467 litres illicit liquor from across the state. During this exercise, as many as10, 209 criminals were arrested."
"On the basis of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, we have seized 55,000 kgs of different types of drugs. In the same, we registered 1,005 cases and arrested 1,374 people. We have ensured complete security at all the polling booths across the state. At the 7,791 sensitive polling booths, paramilitary forces have been deployed. In total, 1,44,941 constables, head-constab
les, ASI will be on duty under the supervision of around 1,500 senior officials. As many as 640 companies of paramilitary forces will be there," Gehlotra added.
The counting of votes will be held on December 11. (ANI)