u00a0 The voting for the first phase of the assembly elections in Gujarat began Thursday at 8 a.m., officials said. u00a0 Polling will end at 5 p.m.u00a0 u00a0 Voters in 87 of the 182 constituencies of the state assembly will exercise their franchise at 44,579 polling stations. u00a0 As many as 17,029 of these stations have been declared as critical. u00a0 Of an estimated 38 million voters, 19.9 million are male and 18.1 million are female. u00a0 There are a total of 846 candidates in the fray, including 46 women.u00a0 u00a0 Narendra Modi The Bharatiya Janata Party is fielding candidates in all 87 seats, the Congress is fielding 84 candidates, Gujarat Parivartan Party 83, and the Bahujan Samaj Party 79. There are 383 Independents, while others are 130. u00a0 The largest constituency by area is Abdasa (6,278 sq km), while the largest constituency by population is Kamrej (304,621 voters). u00a0 Maninagar in Ahmedabad, where incumbent Chief Minister Narendra Modi squares off against suspended officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife, Shweta also goes to the polls in the first phase. u00a0 Fate of many state political big-wigs who are contesting elections like Keshubhai Patel, Assembly Speaker Ganpat Vasava, Gujarat BJP president R C Faldu, state Congress president Arjun Modhwadia and Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil will be decided today.