BHOPAL/AIZAWL: Polling is currently underway in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram in the single-phase of crucial assembly elections on Wednesday, billed as the ''semi-final'' ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in the two states where the two main political parties - BJP and Congress - are hoping to unseat each other and seize power..
In Madhya Pradesh, polling will be held to elect a 230-member assembly on Wednesday. Nearly 1.80 lakh security personnel have been deployed on duty to ensure peaceful polling in the state, where the ruling BJP and opposition Congress will vie for supremacy.
The BJP is eyeing a fourth straight term in office, while the Congress is hoping for a comeback in the state which was once its stronghold. As many as 2,899 candidates, including 1,094 independents, are in the fray for the 230 seats, but the main contest is between the Congress and BJP. The state has nearly 5.04 crore eligible voters.
Polling will be held from 8 AM to 5 PM in 227 seats, while in three assembly segments in the Naxal-affected Balaghat district - Lanji, Paraswada and Baihar - voting time will be from 7 AM to 3 PM.
According to State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) VL Kantha Rao Rao, nearly 3,00,782 government employees, including 45,904 women, have been deployed on poll duty across the state, where 65,341 polling stations have been set up.
The CEO said 17,000 of these polling booths have been declared 'sensitive' and additional vigil will be maintained there. Among the 2,899 candidates, 250 are women and five are from the third gender, the CEO said.
"The candidates include 1,794 from general category, 591 from Scheduled Castes and 514 from Scheduled Tribes. The highest number of seven female candidates are contesting from Chhatarpur, where 16 candidates are in the fray," Rao said.
The highest number of candidates - 34 - are in the fray in the Mehgaon constituency in Bhind district, while the lowest - 4 - is in Gunnor in Panna district," he said.
According to the final electoral roll, the state has 5,04,95,251 voters - 2,63,01,300 males, 2,41,30,390 females, 1,389 third gender and 62,172 postal electors.
The BJP is contesting all the 230 seats, while the Congress has fielded 229 candidates, leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for its ally - Sharad Yadav's Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD).
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, in office since 2005, is seeking re-election from Budhni in Sehore district. The BSP has fielded 227 candidates, while the SP is contesting on 52 seats.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), contesting the Madhya Pradesh elections for the first time, has fielded 208 candidates.
After high-octane campaigning, assembly elections in Mizoram will take place on Wednesday with as many as 209 candidates in fray for the 40-member Mizoram Legislative Assembly.
The state will be witnessing a single-phase election and results will be declared on December 11.
The Congress party, which has been in power in Mizoram since 2008, is eyeing a third consecutive term in the state. In the previous election in 2013, Congress had fielded 40 candidates while it won 34 seats, whereas Mizo National Front (MNF) secured only five seats after contesting 31 seats.
Mizoram People`s Conference (MPC) had contested on eight seats but it managed to bag only one.
Both Congress and MNF are contesting on all 40 constituencies this time, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is fighting in 39 seats.
Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla is contesting from two seats - Serchhip and Champhai South. In Serchhip, Thanhawla will be contesting against Zoram People`s Movement`s (ZPM) chief ministerial candidate Lalduhoma, Mizo National Front (MNF) nominee C Lalramzauva and People`s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM) party chief Vanlalruata among others.
In the Champhai South, the incumbent Chief Minister would contest against MNF`s TJ Lalnuntluanga and ZPM`s C Lalremliana.