Gandhinagar, Dec 4: A total of 1,268 candidates, highest since 1995 elections, are in the fray for 182 Assembly seats in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections as against the 1,125 candidates in elections that were held under the shadow of Gujarat riots.
A record number of 4,946 nomination papers were filed during the 1995 elections and after withdrawals, about 2,545 candidates contested the elections. However, the number of candidates declined in the subsequent elections following changes in nomination rules and increase in deposit rate to keep non-serious candidates out of the elections.
BJP is contesting from all the 182 seats, while Congress which has an electoral alliance with NCP, Left and Lok Janshakti Party (headed by Ramvilas Paswan) will field 172 candidates. Other parties, which are also in fray, include Uma Bharati's BJS, BSP and Janata Dal (United).
A good number of rebels are also contesting from various seats, making the election a multi-cornered contest in almost all the constituencies except two, Matar in Kheda district and Randhikpur in Dahod district, where the BJP and the Congress are locked in a straight contest. Another half a dozen constituencies are set to witness a triangular contest.
More than 3.63 crore of the electorate will exercise their right to vote in the upcoming elections as against the 3.32 crore that took part in the 2002 elections. The number of candidates in the first phase of the elections is higher, 669 for 87 seats, than 599 candidates, who will contest in the second phase for 95 seats. The first phase will cover all seats of Kutch, Saurashtra and south Gujarat, while the second phase will cover north Gujarat and Central Gujarat.
Voting for the first phase will be held on December 11 and for second phase on December 16. The counting of votes will take place on December 23 and the notification for the constitution of the 12th Gujarat Assembly will be issued before December 26.