Additional chief electoral officer Ashok Manek said while 846 candidates will contest from 87 constituencies in the first phase, 820 candidates are in fray from 95 constituencies in the second phase. The first phase (Dec 13) will see Saurashtra, south Gujarat and four talukas of western Ahmedabad going to the polls while Kutch, central Gujarat and north Gujarat will go to the polls in the second phase (Dec 17). Results will be declared on Dec 20.
The number of candidates is 398 more than what it was in 2007. The rise in the number of candidates hints at a possible polarisation in votes for all parties.
The BJP, which is in power in the state for 17 years now, has fielded candidates from all 182 seats while the opposition, Congress, has fielded candidates from 181 seats in alliance with the NCP. Visavadar in Junagadh district is the only constituency from where the Congress-NCP alliance has not fielded any candidate. This seat will see a contest between Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) president Keshubhai Patel and sitting BJP MLA Kanubhai Balala.
The GPP also withdrew its candidate Pravin Patel from Maninagar constituency where Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, will take on Chief Minister Narandra Modi on the Congress ticket.
Six constituencies in coastal Bhavnagar, Amreli and Surat district will see a four-way battle with Independent candidates fielded by Sadbhavna Manch headed by rebel BJP MLA Kanubhai Kalsariya. The new outfit has fielded six candidates in the polls with Kalsariya contesting from Gariyadhar.