Gujarat is set to begin voting on Thursday in 89 Assembly constituencies, spread across 19 districts in Saurashtra-Kutch and the southern parts of the State, with 788 candidates in the fray in the first phase of Assembly polls.
Campaigning for the first phase in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled State ended Tuesday evening while north and central Gujarat districts continued to see campaigning as they will vote in the second phase on December 5.
Voting will be held between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Thursday across 14,382 polling stations, the office of the State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said.
Out of the 4.91 crore registered voters in Gujarat, 2.4 crore are eligible to cast their votes in the first phase of the elections. These include 5.74 lakh voters in the age group of 18-19 years, and 4,945 above the age of 99 years, the office of the State CEO said.
Voting will be held across 14,382 polling stations, of which 3,311 are in urban regions and 11,071 in rural areas.
As per the details from the Election Commission of India, apart from the BJP, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), 36 other political outfits, including the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), CPI(M) and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) have also fielded candidates.
The BJP and Congress are contesting in all 89 seats, while the new poll entrant AAP is contesting in 88 seats. Its candidate from Surat East constituency had withdrawn his candidature, leaving the party with one less seat to contest in the first phase.
Among other parties, the BSP has fielded 57 candidates, BTP 14 and CPI(M) four candidates. As many as 339 independents are also in the fray in the first phase of polls.
Out of the 788 candidates, 70 are women, including nine fielded by the BJP, six by the Congress and five by the AAP.
The key candidates in the fray are the AAP’s chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi, contesting from Jam Khambhalia; former State Congress president Arjun Modhvadia from Porbandar; AAP’s Gujarat chief Gopal Italia from Katargam; former Patidar quota agitation leader Alpesh Kathiriya from Varachha Road; former leader of the opposition Paresh Dhanani from Amreli; and cricketer Ravindra Jadeja’s wife Rivaba Jadeja from the Jamnagar North seat.
Other prominent candidates in the first phase include junior Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi and cabinet minister Purnesh Modi from different seats in Surat, and five-time MLA and former minister Parshottam Solanki from Bhavnagar (Rural).
In a press release, the CEO of the State said that a total of 2.2 lakh trained officers and employees will be on duty for the smooth conduct of the election process. In the first phase alone, 27,978 presiding officers and 78,985 polling officers will be on election duty during the voting process.