[dropcap]P[/dropcap]olling is underway in 199 out of 200 seats in Rajasthan on Friday, which will decide the fate of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje facing a tough challenge from the resurgent Congress, which she had decimated in 2013.
The election in Alwar district’s Ramgarh constituency has been postponed due to the death of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Laxman Singh.
Rajasthan Assembly election 2018 is a litmus test for Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. By most political pundits, Rajasthan polls are seen as a straight fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress for about 130 seats. In the current House, the BJP has 160 seats and the Congress 25.
Raje is contesting elections from Jhalrapatan constituency from Rajasthan’s Jhalawar district, same as she did in the 2003, 2008 and 2013 elections. She is facing BJP veteran Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra Singh who has defected to the Congress
Congress leader Ashok Gehlot will contest from Jodhpur’s Sardarpura constituency. Sachin Pilot is contesting state polls for the first time, from Rajasthan’s Tonk constituency. Pilot is in contest with BJP’s only Muslim face in the state -Yoonus Khan. 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.
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.
Counting will take place on December 11 for Rajasthan and four other states Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram, taking part in this round of Assembly elections.
Here are the live updates:
7.10pm: Turnout in Rajasthan assembly polls was 72.62 per cent, says Election Commission, reports PTI.
6.15pm: Voting concludes at the polling booth at Miranda Public School at Ratanada’s Sardarpura constituency.
5.50pm: Polling concludes at polling booth no. 31(A) in Jhalawar. Voter turnout recorded at this particular booth is 73.83%.
5.16pm: Three people injured in Khudera Chhota village of Churu district after a clash between two groups. The injured have been identified as Virendra Singh, Chatar Singh and Ugaram Jat. “The injured have been rushed to the government hospital and are undergoing treatment. Injuries are not grievous,” said Narayan Dan, circle officer, Ratangarh.
5.15pm: Voter turnout recorded till 5 pm is 72.7%.
5.12pm: After a brawl broke out in a polling booth in Palava village of Alwar district, security personnel of Indo-Tibetan Border Police fired in the air control the situation. No injury was reported.
5pm: Congress says it received 460 complaints at its control room in state headquarters. Around 400 of them were related to EVM malfunction and delay in start of polling. At 160 places, there were complaints of attempt to capture booth, intimidate voters and violence by BJP. Rajasthan Congress general secretary Sushil Sharma said the party reported all this to the election commission.
3.50pm: Voter turnout recorded till 3 pm is 59.43%.
2.02pm: Vehicles set ablaze and vandalised in a clash which broke out between two groups at a polling booth at Subhash school in Sikar’s Fatehpur today. Voting remained affected for 30 minutes. Miscreants were later removed from spot by police and voting resumed.
1:22pm: Voter turnout recorded till 1 pm in the Rajasthan assembly elections is 41.53%: news agency ANI
1:11pm: The polling, which began on a dull note at 8 am, picked up speed in the last two hours. Voting will continue till 5 pm. Long queues of voters, including women, were seen, especially in rural areas.
Decorated with pink and white balloons, the women’s polling booths are a new experiment by the Election Commission to help increase the participation of women in the electoral system. “We are seeing that women’s participation is increasing in all sectors — be it government or private. So we wanted to experiment with stations managed exclusively by women. Going forward, we would want more and more such pink booths,” said an election officer from a pink booth in Jhalrapatan where Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje voted this morning.
11.40am: Former Alwar MP Jitendra Singh and his wife cast their votes.
11.28am: Shajha, a 105-year-old woman casts her vote at a polling booth in Kishanpura, Jaipur. Family says, “There is no facility of wheelchair in this polling booth. We had to carry her inside the polling station so that she could vote.”
11.21am: Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal stands in a queue to cast his vote at polling booth no. 172 in Bikaner.
11.16am: Voter turnout recorded till 11.00 am is 21.89%
11.10am: Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav Gehlot casts his vote along with his family.
10.53am: Voters create ruckus at polling booth no. 253 and 254 in Ahor constituency of Jalore as voting has been halted following EVM malfunction.
10.30am: EVM is being replaced at polling booth no. 172 in Bikaner’s Kisamidesar following a technical issue.
10am: Congress leader Ashok Gehlot cast his vote at polling booth no. 106 in Jodhpur.
9.31am: Voting turnout is 6.11% till 9 AM.
9.40am: A 90-year-old man arrives at polling booth no. 104 in Sardarpura constituency of Jodhpur district to cast his vote.
9.30am: Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje on Friday slammed senior politician Sharad Yadav for body-shaming her. Raje said that Yadav did not only hurt her but also insulted all women.
9.21 am: Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat cast his vote at polling booth 128 in Jodhpur.
9:21am: Jalore: Voting is yet to begin in polling booth no. 253 and 254 in Ahor following EVM malfunction.
9:20 am: State Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria cast his vote at a polling station in Udaipur.
9:17 AM: Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore casts his votes at polling booth 252 in Vaishali Nagar, Jaipur. He said, “Every single vote counts. We have to cast our vote today by thinking who is actually taking the nation forward.”
9:15 AM: Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot arrives at polling booth in Jalupura locality of Jaipur to cast his vote. He is the Congress candidate in Tonk, pitted against BJP’s Yunus Khan.
Pilot says Congress will form government with absolute majority. We have already declared our resolve for people’s welfare, he says.
BJP regime was the “government of arrogant people”. It is set to be defeated. People are fed up, says Pilot.
Tonk, with a sizeable Muslim population, is a keenly-watched contest since it’s between the State Congress chief and the BJP’s only Muslim face in the elections.
8:40 AM: Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria casts his vote in Udaipur. He offered prayers at a Shiv temple in Udaipur before casting his vote.
8:30 AM: Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje arrives at polling booth in Jhalrapatan to cast her vote. This is the vote for development. We have worked hard. I am confident of people’s support, says Raje.
Raje, who is the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, is fighting against veteran BJP leader Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra Singh in Jhalrapatan, the constituency she has represented since 2003.
Manvendra Singh switched to Congress just before the election, making the fight tougher for Raje this time. She had won 63 per cent of the votes cast in 2013, winning the seat by a margin of 60,896.
08:17 AM: Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is counting on her government’s programmes to fetch her a large number of votes, enough to keep her in power for another term. The Congress is hoping anti-incumbency will work in the northern state.
08:02 AM: Voting begins in Rajasthan’s 100 constituencies