Ruling party faces tough challenge in Rajasthan
The stage is set for the conduct of Assembly elections in two key States, Telangana and Rajasthan, on Friday. Polling will be held for 119 constituencies in Telangana, while in Rajasthan the contest is for 199 seats.
Over 2.8 crore voters, 1.41 crore men and 1.39 crore women including 7.04 lakh voters under the age of 20, will exercise their franchise in 32,815 polling stations across Telangana. In all 1,821 candidates, 515 of national and state recognised political parties, are testing their fortunes in the election, the first full-fledged election after the formation of the State.
Polling will be held between 7 am and 5 pm in 106 constituencies while it will be from 7 am to 4 pm in the 13 constituencies identified as sensitive for left-wing extremist activities. Voter slips have been distributed to the majority of electors and voters could also utilise other recognised identity proof in case they did not receive their voter slips or electors photo identity cards.
Malkajgiri constituency has the highest number of 42 contestants and Banswada the least with six. Four constituencies have more than 32 contestants and 35 have 16 to 32 candidates, while there are 15 or fewer candidates in 80 constituencies. The election authority has despatched 44,415 ballot units in addition to 7,557 in reserve, 32,016 control units (4,432 in reserve) and 32,016 (5,261 in reserve) voter verifiable paper audit trail machines to all the constituencies.
Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar said the election authority has positioned adequate number of machines in reserve for use in case of some machines showing defects. “These machines have been so positioned that they can be sent to the polling station concerned in less than 30 minutes,” Mr. Kumar said. Elaborate arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of the election with more than 1.6 lakh employees drawn from different State departments deployed on poll duties.
The Rajasthan election will decide the fate of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje facing a tough challenge from the resurgent Congress, which she had decimated in 2013. Ms. Raje also faces a strong anti-incumbency factor. Among the 200 Assembly constituencies, election in Alwar district’s Ramgarh seat has been postponed following the death of Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Laxman Singh. Over 4.74 crore registered voters will exercise their franchise, with 1.44 lakh security personnel having been deployed at the polling booths and in the sensitive areas.
Votes will be cast at 51,687 polling booths, 259 of which will be managed exclusively by the women staff and security personnel. More than two lakh electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used in the election, while the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines would be attached to them for the first time in the State, Chief Electoral Officer Anand Kumar said in Jaipur.
In the straight fight between the two major parties, the ruling BJP has fielded its candidates in all the 199 seats. The Congress has fielded 194 candidates, having left five seats for the parties with which it has entered into an alliance.