Voting begins for Rajasthan assembly polls

Polling began at 7 am and voters can cast their ballots until 6 pm.

Jaipur: Voting began in 199 out of 200 assembly seats in Rajasthan on Saturday after days of hectic campaigning by major political parties including the ruling Congress and BJP.

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Elections in the Karanpur constituency were adjourned due to the passing of Congress candidate Gurmeet Singh Koonar.

The polling began at 7 am and voters can cast their ballots until 6 pm.

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Adequate security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful and fair elections.

The ruling Congress is eyeing another term while the BJP is seeking to replace the Ashok Gehlot government, with the party banking on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Prominent candidates in the fray include Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, former CM Vasundhara Raje, former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot, Congress national spokesperson Gourav Vallabh, Union Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore, Vishwaraj Singh Mewar, Rajasthan Assembly Speaker CP Joshi, and Rajasthan LoP Rajendra Rathore.

Many rebel candidates of BJP and Congress withdrew their names after persuasion. But still, around 45 rebel candidates from both parties are in the fray. These also include MLAs, former MLAs and party officials.

The counting of votes will be taken up on December 3.

BJP and Congress are engaged in an intense fight with both parties seeking to outdo each other in terms of poll promises.

The role of smaller parties is also crucial. BSP has won seats in the state. Aam Aadmi Party is also in the fray. The smaller parties include the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, Bharatiya Adivasi Party, CPI-M, Jannayak Janata Party and Azad Samaj Party.

Violence against women, paper leak scam, farmers’ suicides are some of the key issues that were highlighted by the opposition BJP to strike against the ruling Congress. CM Gehlot has reaffirmed that Congress will return to power, putting an end to the three-decade-old alternating government trend in the western state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his campaigning in the state hit out at the Congress leadership, accusing it of indulging in ‘dynastic’ politics and said that the grand old party strives to ‘punish’ its leader Sachin Pilot for his father’s revolt against high command in 1996.

However, Pilot retorted to the Prime Minister that the BJP needs to stop worrying about him. Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi explained the government’s schemes and said that the party works for the poor, the farmers, the small traders and shopkeepers.

She pointed out that the Congress government had waived off the debts of farmers. To woo the voters, both parties brought in their star campaigners at public rallies and roadshows in different parties of the state.

When BJP sharpened its strike with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party chief JP Nadda, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Congress bounced back with Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and several state leaders.

The BJP’s manifesto outlines several key resolutions including the implementation of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, Laho Incentive Scheme, Direct Benefit Transfer and Bhamashah Health Infrastructure Mission.

The Congress manifesto promises to hold a caste-based census, a new scheme for recruitment at the panchayat level and enactment of a law to implement the minimum support price for farmers in the state among other guarantees.

A total of 5,26,90,146 voters will decide the fate of the candidates at a total of 51,890 polling stations in the assembly constituencies. The high-voltage election campaigning wrapped up in Rajasthan on Thursday.

1,70,99,334 young voters in the 18-30 age group will vote, including 22,61,008 new voters in the 18-19 age group.

The Chief Electoral Officer said that over 3 lakh people exercised their franchise via postal ballot ahead of the polls tomorrow. A total of 1,02,290 security personnel have been deployed to ensure peaceful voting. A total force of 69,114 police personnel, 32,876 Rajasthan Home Guard, Forest Guard and RAC personnel have been deployed and 700 companies of CAPF have been deployed, he added.

In 2018, the Congress won 99 seats, while the BJP won 73. Gehlot assumed the CM position with the support of BSP MLAs and independents.

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