Millions vote in Rajasthan; BJP, Congress claim victory
About 29 million people voted across Rajasthan Sunday to pick a new 200-seat Rajasthan assembly in keenly fought elections which both the Congress and the BJP claimed they would win
More than 72.49 percent of the state's 40 million electorate had voted by 5 p.m., and the polling percentage could be higher when the final figures are calculated, officials said.
Maximum polling of 85.5 percent was reported in Jaisalmer district and minimum of over 55 percent was reported from Bharatpur. In state capital Jaipur, over 68 percent of voters cast their votes.
Balloting took place in 199 constituencies Sunday, with 2,087 candidates in the race. Polling has been postponed in Churu to Dec 13 following the death of a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate.
Voting was largely peaceful barring stray incidents of clashes between rival political activists. Police fired in the air at some places and used batons to break up the mobs.
Clashes were reported from Dausa, Kekri, Sawai Madhopur, Thana Gaji and some other places.
In 2008, Rajasthan recorded 66.25 percent voting. The Congress came to power then.
"I am confident the Congress will return to power with a thumping majority," boasted Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who was among those who voted early.
Gehlot dismissed claims that BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's aggressive campaign would make a difference to the outcome.
"I don't see any Modi wave or factor here in Rajasthan," he said.
Former chief minister and BJP state president Vasundhara Raje was equally confident of her party's victory.
"People want to get rid of the Congress and are hungry for development. I am confident the BJP will come to power," she said.
The Congress and the BJP are contesting in all the seats while the National Peoples Party (NPP), led by Meena community leader Kirori Lal Meena, has put up candidates in 150 and the BSP in over 100 seats.
The state is witnessing a keen tussle between the BJP, which is determined to return to power, and the Congress, which is hoping for a second straight win.
In the outgoing house, the Congress held 102 seats and the BJP 79.
Mayawati's BSP and NPP are trying to make a dent in the vote bank of both the major parties. The BSP won six seats in 2008 but all six legislators joined the Congress.
Electronic voting machines broke down in some places. They were quickly repaired or replaced.
The vote count in Rajasthan will take place Dec 8 along with Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh went to the polls last month and Delhi will see polling Wednesday.