Jaipur, Dec 7: Voting began at 51,687 polling stations spread over 199 assembly constituencies in Rajasthan on Friday morning amid adequate security arrangements.
The single-phased polling that began at 0800 hrs is to decide the fate of 2,274 contestants including 187 women. A total of 4, 74, 37,761 voters, including 2, 27, 15,396 women and girls are eligible to exercise their franchise.
According to initial reports reaching at the state headquarters here, queues of voters were seen at many booths in Jaipur, Kota, Udaipur and Jhalawar districts even before the scheduled time for opening of the voting process. In the Pink City here, Lokayukta S S Kothari was among those who exercised their franchise early this morning.
Notable contestants are Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje (BJP-Jhalrapatan), former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot(Congress-Sardarpura), Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria (Udaipur), Congress State President Sachin Pilot(Tonk), Congress nominee former Union Ministers Dr CP Joshi(Nathdwara), Dr Girija Vyas (Udaipur), former Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's son-in-law Narpat Singh Rajvi (BJP-Vidhyadhar-Jaipur), former Union Minister Jaswant Singh's son Manvendra Singh(Congress-Jhalrapatan), Ghanshyam Tiwari (Sanganer-BVP) and Hanuman Beniwal (Khimsar-RLMP).
The authorities have made due preparations and tight security arrangements for smooth and fair polls. As many as 1,44,941 police personnel--including 640 companies of central para military forces, have been deployed for peaceful voting, Chief Electoral Officer Anand Kumar said.
"Extra care is being taken on critical or sensitive polling stations that numbered slightly above 13,000", Mr Kumar said, adding that as many as 4,146 villages have been identified as vulnerable and more than 20,000 trouble mongers were restrained.
There are 200 seats to the assembly. The election on the Ramgarh seat in Alwar has been countermanded following death of the Bahujan Samaj Party nominee Laxman Singh Chaudhary.
The counting of votes will be done on December 11 simultaneously in all five election-bound states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram.
The contest by and large is expected to be straight bilateral affair between the traditional rivals, the ruling BJP and the principal opposition Congress. However, the candidates of the BSP, Leftists CPM and CPI, AAP and breakaway groups like one headed by estranged BJP leaders Hanuman Beniwal and Ghanshyam Tiwari and some strong rebels including four members of Vasundhara Raje Council of Ministers have potentials to make it triangular or multi-cornered affair on a number of seats.
The ruling BJP has fielded candidates on all seats, the Congress contesting 195 of 200 seats leaving 5 for allies like RLD, JD(Sharad Yadav faction) and NCP. The BSP fielded 197(of them one passed away) and AAP for the first time contesting most of the seats.The CPM is contesting on 28 seats while the CPI nominees are in fray in 16 constituencies.
In the present 14th House, the ruling BJP holds 160 seats, Congress 25, BSP and NUZP 02 each, NPP 01, Independents 07 and three seats are vacant. (UNI)