After high-voltage campaign, it's over to voters in Raj & T'gana
New Delhi: All arrangements have been put in place for Friday's Assembly elections in Telangana and Rajasthan.
Over 2,000 candidates are in the fray for 199 assembly seats in Rajasthan, where polling will determine whether the BJP bucks anti-incumbency and increasingly aggressive opposition to return to power.
Votes will be cast at 51,687 polling booths, 259 of them managed exclusively by women officials and security personnel.
It is a seen as a straight fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress for about 130 seats.
In other constituencies, groups like the Bahujan Samaj Party and rebels who are contesting against official party candidates may queer the pitch.
Vasundhara Raje hopes to return as the state's chief minister.
If the Congress wins, it is expected to pick between former chief minister Ashok Gehlot and state party president Sachin Pilot for the top post in the state.
In the current House, the BJP has 160 seats and the Congress 25.
Raje is contesting from Jhalrapatan constituency, considered her bastion.
This time she faces BJP veteran Jaswant Singh's son Manvendra Singh who has defected to the Congress, complaining that his old party had hurt the pride of the Rajputs by ignoring his father in the last Lok Sabha election.
In Tonk, Sachin Pilot and Rajasthan Transport Minister and BJP candidate Yoonus Khan are face to face. Khan is the only Muslim candidate fielded by his party. Ashok Gehlot is fighting for the Sardarpura seat.
The polling caps a hard-fought campaign between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed 12 major rallies and Congress president Rahul Gandhi nine in the state. Both sides fielded their top leaders in the campaign.
After a high-voltage campaign that witnessed a shrill war of words by contesting parties, Telangana is set for Assembly polls with the Congress-led alliance, the TRS and the BJP locked in a triangular contest.More than 1.50 lakh polling officials, including reserve staff, are in the process of giving final touches Thursday to make the election to the 119-member House a smooth affair.
A senior police official said security was beefed up at bordering areas which were identified as Left Wing Extremist-affected regions.
The assembly polls in Telangana were initially scheduled to be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections next year, but the House was dissolved on September 6 as per a recommendation of the state cabinet.
It is to be seen if TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao's gamble to opt for early elections pays off.
The Congress has stitched together the 'Prajakutami' (People's Front) along with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Telangana Jana Samiti (TJS) and the Communist Party of India (CPI), to take on the ruling TRS.
The TRS, seeking a second term in office, is going alone, as also the BJP.
While KCR was, without doubt, the star campaigner for the TRS, the Congress and the BJP fielded their bigwigs for the campaign.
Counting of votes in both states will be taken up on Tuesday along with Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram. See also P5