In the last Assembly elections in 2018, the state had recorded a voter turnout of 74.06 per cent
New Delhi/Jaipur: After a high-pitched campaign, hard-hitting and acrimonious debates, and a mega-propaganda blitz, Rajasthan went to the polls on Saturday. Voting was held in 199 of the 200 Assembly seats in the state. Till 5 pm, 68.24 per cent voter turnout was recorded. The Election Commission is expecting the final voting percentage to cross the 75 per cent mark after the final count. In the last Assembly elections in 2018, the state had recorded a voter turnout of 74.06 per cent.
While the ruling Congress, led by chief minister Ashok Gehlot, is eyeing a return to power, the BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is trying to unseat the incumbent.
All parties contesting the polls fielded their "star campaigners". Besides the Prime Minister, Union ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari, party president J.P. Nadda, former chief minister Vasundhara Raje, among others, campaigned for the BJP.
For the Congress, its national president Mallikarjun Kharge, senior leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanaka Gandhi Vadra, chief minister Ashok Gehlot and others participated in the high-pitched campaign.
While the Congress has been banking on its promise of implementing the old pension scheme, the caste census and other promises in the manifesto, the main Opposition BJP is relying on campaigning against the “misrule” of the Gehlot government and the promise of its leaders to turn the state from “number one in corruption and crime” to a “developed state”.
The counting of votes will take place on December 3, along with the counting of the other four states -- Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana.
On the day Rajasthan went to polls, the BJP accused Mr Gandhi and Ms Vadra of violating poll guidelines with their posts on X. The BJP urged the Election Commission to seek suspension of the Congress leader's social media account and initiate other actions against them.
In their posts, both the Congress leaders urged people to vote for their party.
The BJP wrote to the Election Commission, saying their posts violate the 48-hour silence period in the run-up to the polls, a period during which most forms of campaigning are barred.
The party accused the former Congress president and his sister, a general secretary of the party, of violating the Representation of the People Act and the model code of conduct and sought the EC's action.
Polling began at more than 51,000 polling booths at 7 am and continued till 6 pm. The Tijara Assembly seat recorded the highest polling till 5 pm at 80.85 per cent and the number is expected to go even higher after the final count.
In Sanwler village of Kaman in Deeg district, two persons, including a policeman, were injured in stone-pelting.
"Police fired 12 rounds in the air to disperse the crowd. Voting was disrupted for a few minutes due to the incident," Deeg superintendent of police Brijesh Upadhyay said.
In Sikar's Fatehpur, two groups clashed and a jawan was injured in the violence.
"Stone pelting occurred outside a polling booth. One jawan was injured in the stone-pelting. No civilian was injured. Around 5-7 persons have been detained," Fatehpur DSP Ram Pratap said.
An altercation occurred between a polling agent and a person outside a polling booth in Dholpur's Bari seat.
"Two vehicles were damaged in the ensuing violence. Polling was stopped for some time and resumed later," Dholpur collector Anil Kumar Agarwal said.
In Uniara, Tonk district, 40–50 people tried to enter a polling booth. However, the situation was brought under control, SP Rajarshi Raj said.
Two people -- a polling agent of a candidate and an elderly voter -- died of cardiac arrest at polling booths in Pali and Udaipur districts.
At Charvali village in the Pindwada Abu constituency in Sirohi district, people boycotted voting.
There are more than 5.25 crore registered voters in 199 seats, out of a total of 200 in the state. Polling in one constituency was postponed due to the death of a candidate. The voters will decide the fate of 1,862 candidates.
The Election Commission made elaborate arrangements to ensure smooth polling. More than 1.70 lakh security personnel were deployed across the state.
The election in the desert state is a direct contest between the ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP. The Congress is aiming to buck the trend of the ruling party being voted out every five years, while the BJP is eyeing a return in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year.
The AIMIM and the AAP are also contesting the assembly polls in the state.
Many voters, youngsters as well as the elderly, queued up at polling centres well before 7 am. Ms Raje’s grandson, a first-time voter, also cast his vote at a polling booth in Jhalawar.
Mr Gehlot, Union Ministers Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Kailash Chaudhary, Mr Raje and Mr Pilot were among the first ones to cast their votes. Mr Gehlot and Mr Shekhawat cast their votes in Jodhpur, Mr Chaudhary in Balotra, Ms Raje in Jhalawar and Mr Pilot in Jaipur.
Rajasthan BJP president C.P. Joshi exercised his franchise in Chittorgarh and party MPs Diya Kumari and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore voted in Jaipur. Ms Kumari and Mr Rathore are among the seven BJP MPs who are contesting the Assembly elections.
In their interactions with the media, the leaders expressed confidence that their respective parties will get the mandate of the people.
There is no anti-incumbency against the Congress and the party will form the government in the state again, Mr Gehlot said in Jodhpur.
"There seems to be an undercurrent. It looks like the (Congress) government will be repeated," he said.
Talking to reporters in Jhalawar, Mr Gehlot's predecessor, Ms Raje, agreed with him but said it would benefit the BJP.
"I agree with him. There is indeed an undercurrent, but in favour of the BJP. The lotus (BJP's poll symbol) will bloom on December 3," she said.
In Jodhpur, Mr Shekhawat said, "The BJP is coming to power with a huge majority. This time people will vote keeping in mind crimes committed against women, paper leak incidents and corruption during the five-year rule of the Congress."
Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister, Mr Kharge and several other leaders appealed to the people of Rajasthan to vote in large numbers.
The Election Commission has set a target of at least 75 per cent turnout in each constituency this time.
Selfie points were put up at polling booths and people, particularly young voters, took selfies after casting their votes.
In the 2018 Assembly polls, the Congress wrested power from the BJP and formed the government with Mr Gehlot as chief minister for the third time. The Congress had won 100 seats and the BJP 73 then.
In the 2013 Assembly elections, the BJP formed the government, with Ms Raje becoming the chief minister for a second time. In 2013, the BJP had won 163 seats and the Congress 21.