MP Assembly Elections: 5 cr voters to decide fate of state as polling begins
Polling began amidst tight security this morning to choose new legislative assemblies in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram -- two of five states where crucial elections are being held just months ahead of the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking a fourth consecutive term in office and the Congress is making a strong bid to return to power after a gap of 15 years.
In Mizoram, the Congress is looking for a third successive term in the face of a stiff challenge from the Mizo National Front.
Polling began at 7 a.m in three constituencies of Maoist-affected Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh amid tight security, while in the remaining 227 of the 230 Assembly seats polling began at 8 a.m.
The polling will end in the three constituencies -- Baihar, Lanji and Paraswada -- at 3 p.m, while it will continue till 5 p.m in all the other constituencies.
In Madhya Pradesh, though the contest is mainly between the BJP and the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) are also in the fray.
Among the 2,907 candidates in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has fielded candidates in all 230 seats, while the Congress is contesting in 229 seats leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for the Sharad Yadav-led Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD).
The BSP has fielded 227 candidates and the SP is contesting in 51 seats. There are 1,102 independent candidates.
In the last polls, of the 230 seats, the BJP won 165, Congress 58, BSP four and Independents three.
Over five crore registered voters in Madhya Pradesh -- 2,63,01,300 men, 2,41,30,390 women and 1,389 of the third gender -- are eligible to vote in today's polls.
In Mizoram, polling began at 7 a.m. for all 40 seats in the Assembly and will end at 4 p.m.
According to senior police officials, around 11,100 security personnel comprising central paramilitary and state security forces have been deployed across the state to ensure smooth polling and prevent any untoward incident.
In all 768,181 voters, including 393,685 women, would decide the electoral fate of the 209 candidates in the state, of whom 15 are women. In 2013, only six women had contested and none were successful.
Besides the two national parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), many regional and local parties have fielded candidates in most of the 40 assembly constituencies. They include the main opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), People's Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM), Zoram People's Movement (ZPM) and Meghalaya-based National People's Party (NPP).
However, the main contest is likely to be between the ruling Congress and the MNF. Both the parties have fielded 40 candidates each.
The BJP, which is trying to make inroads in the state, has fielded candidates in 39 constituencies.
Except for 10 years -- 1998-2003 and 2003-2008 -- the Congress has been in power in Mizoram since it became a full-fledged state in 1987.
Counting of votes in Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram will be taken up on December 11 along with Chhattisgarh, where polling was held on November 12 and 20, and Rajasthan and Telangana, where voting will be held on December 7.
The term of the Assembly in Chhattisgarh is due to expire on January 5, 2019; Madhya Pradesh on January 7, 2019; Rajasthan on January 20, 2019 and Mizoram on December 15, 2018.
In Telangana, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) decided to go in for early polls and, accordingly, the Governor of the State had dissolved the Assembly with immediate effect on September 6, 2018, nearly nine months before its term was to end.
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