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Rajasthan Assembly elections 2018: Counting of votes begins; BJP locked in tough contest with Congress

Counting of votes for keenly-contested December 7 assembly elections in Rajasthan has begun amid unprecedented security.

Rajasthan Assembly elections 2018: Counting of votes begins; BJP locked in tough contest with Congress

JAIPUR: The counting of votes for December 7 assembly elections 2018 held in Rajasthan for 199 out of 200 seats has begun amid unprecedented security on Tuesday. The outcome of Rajasthan Assembly elections 2018 will show whether the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) will be able to beat the anti-incumbency factor in the state, where it has been in power for nearly two decades, or its main rival Congress will make a comeback.

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Whichever party - BJP or Congress - wins in Rajasthan, the outcome of the keenly-contested December 7 assembly elections 2018 will surely impact the fast-approaching Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

While the ruling party is confident of its victory here, Congress - the main opposition party - is equally hopeful of making a comeback in the state after staying out of power for nearly two decades.

Polling was held in a single phase for 199 out of the 200 Assembly seats in Rajasthan on December 7, Friday. Polling in Alwar district’s Ramgarh was postponed due to the death of BSP candidate Laxman Singh. Polling in Ramgarh will be held later. 

Though there were reports of EVMs malfunctioning at some polling booths, the polling was largely peaceful. According to state's Chief Electoral Officer Anand Kumar, a voter turnout of 72.62 percent was recorded in Rajasthan.

A political party or bloc needs 101 seats to establish a majority in the Rajasthan state assembly.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has been challenged by Congress candidate Manvendra Singh, son of senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh, in Jhalrapatan, the constituency she has represented since 2003. Manvendra Singh switched to the Congress just before the elections.

Ahead of the declaration of results, both the parties have exuded confidence that they will emerge as a winner in the crucial polls. The Congress claims that there is huge anti-incumbency. In the last round of by-elections in February, the party wrested the Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha seats and the Mandalgarh assembly seat from the BJP.

While BJP has contested the polls with Raje as its main face, the Congress is yet to announce a chief ministerial candidate in Rajasthan. 

Congress party's election in-charge Sachin Pilot and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot both are seen as the front-runners for the top job. 

Electorally, Rajasthan has swung between the BJP and the Congress in the five elections since 1993. The Congress, which won only 21 assembly seats in 2013 against the BJP's 161, would need an 8 percent swing in its favour to win the elections this time.

The exits polls conducted by a number of news channels recently indicated a clear majority for the Congress in Rajasthan. 

Times Now-CNX predicted the Congress prevailing in 105 seats in the 200-member Assembly and 85 being bagged by the BJP. 

India Today-Axis My India indicated 119 to 141 seats for the Congress and 55 to 72 for the BJP.

Republic-C Voter, on the other hand, predicted a closer outcome, as it gave 81-101 seats to the Congress and 83-103 to the BJP.