Bhopal, Nov 27: Polling commenced this morning in all 230 constituencies spread over 50 districts of Madhya Pradesh for the formation of the 13th Assembly amid tight security and the Election Commission's of close vigil.
A 3,63,04,152-strong electorate -- including 1,71,66,252 women -- were enrolled to exercise their franchise across 47,214 booths to decide the electoral fortune of 3,179 candidates, including 1,371 independents and 221 women. The number of service voters is 23,839.
The number of voters declined by more than 15 lakh, including nine lakh women, compared to the 2003 hustings when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power ousting Congress by bagging a record three-fourths majority.
Nearly two lakh government employees, including those of the central government and public sector undertakings, have been engaged to conduct polling through electronic voting machines.
Putting in place an unprecedented security cover, the ECI deployed 262 companies of security personnel drawn from various states to ensure free and fair polling from 0800 hrs to 1700 hrs.
The borders with Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh -- besides Chhattisgarh -- have been sealed to check movement of miscreants and flow of liquor.
No party has fielded nominees in all 230 constituencies though the BJP, Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) fielded 228 candidates each. The Samajwadi Party fielded 187 nominees, Communist Party of India 21, CPI(Marxist) 13, Shiv Sena 28, Rashtriya Janata Dal 4, Bharatiya Jan Shakti (BJS) 197, Nationalist Congress Party 2 and others 672.
For the first time, micro-observers have been deputed by ECI. In Harda constituency, the People's Union for Civil Liberties has deployed a 13-member delegation led by veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar to ensure whether the Model Code of Conduct was being adhered to. Besides Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Budhni), other prominent candidates include former chief minister Babulal Gaur (Govindpura), Speaker Ishwardas Rohani (Jabalpur Cantonment), seven BJP MPs and more than two dozen state ministers.
Former premier Atal Bihari Vajpayee's nephew Anoop Mishra (BJP) is trying his luck from Gwalior East. Former chief minister Kailash Joshi's son Deepak (Hatpipalya), late Virendra Kumar Sakhlecha's son Omprakash (Jawad), late Govind Narain Singh's son Dhruv Narain (Bhopal Central), ex-chief minister and BJS chief Uma Bharti (Tikamgarh) are in the fray.
From Congress, Union Minister Arjun Singh's son Ajay Singh is trying a hat-trick from Churhat while former Speaker Shriniwas Tiwari (Sirmour), Deputy Speaker Hazarilal Raghuvanshi (Seoni-Malwa) and former Pradesh Congress Committee chief Subhash Yadav (Kasravad) are also contesting.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Jamuna Devi, who has been in the fray since 1952, is in the arena from Kukshi (ST).
However, former chief minister Digvijay Singh -- whose successive tenures together lasted a decade -- is a notable absentee.
Counting is scheduled for December 8.