Almost half of Gujarat would exercise their franchise on Thursday for 87 seats in the first phase of the 182-member Gujarat Assembly elections where 1.81 crore voters will decide the fate of 846 candidates.

The polling will take place in 48 constituencies in seven districts of Saurashtra, on 35 seats in five districts of southern Gujarat and on four in Ahmedabad district.

Seats in Surendranagar, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Porbandar, Jamnagar, Amreli and Bhavnagar are considered very crucial and decisive as political observers are watching keenly on how the Keshubhai Patel factor plays out in the region.

On Thursday, voters will also decide the fate of many State political bigwigs who are contesting elections like Keshubhai Patel, Assembly Speaker Ganpat Vasava, Gujarat BJP president R C Faldu, State Congress president Arjun Modhwadia and Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil.

State ministers like Vajubhai Vala, Vasuben Trivedi, Narottam Patel, Mangubhai Patel, Purshottam Solanki, Kiritsinh Rana, Dilip Sanghani, Kanubhai Bhalala, Mohan Kundaria and Ranjit Gilitvala will also be awaiting their fate following tomorrow’s voting.

For this phase, BJP has fielded candidates on all 87 seats going to the poll, whereas Congress is contesting on 84 and Gujarat Parivartan Party on 83.

Apart from these three major parties, there are total 26 political parties and 383 independents in the fray, which include BJP rebel and sitting MLA Kanubhai Kalsaria, who has formed a new forum - Sadbhavna Manch - and fielded six candidates.