BHOPAL — Polling began Wednesday morning to elect a 230-member assembly in Madhya Pradesh, where the ruling BJP and opposition Congress are fighting for supremacy.
Polling is being held between 8 am and 5 pm on 227 seats, while in three assembly segments - Lanji, Paraswada and Baihar - in the Naxal-affected Balaghat district, voting time is between 7 am to 3 pm.
The BJP is eyeing a fourth straight term in office, while the Congress is hoping for a comeback in the state which was once its stronghold.
The battle of ballots in Madhya Pradesh is just months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls slated in the first half of 2019.
As many as 2,899 candidates, including 1,094 independents, are in the fray for the 230 seats, but the main contest is between the Congress and BJP — the Big Two of MP politics.
The state has 5.04 crore eligible voters.
State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) V L Kantha Rao said Tuesday 3,00,782 government employees, including 45,904 women, have been deployed on poll duty across the state, where 65,341 polling stations have been set up.
The CEO said 17,000 of these polling booths have been declared 'sensitive' and additional vigil will be maintained there.
As many as 1.80 lakh security personnel, including those drawn from central paramilitary forces, have been deployed to ensure free and fair poll, Rao said.
"Special measures have been taken for sensitive booths. Webcasting will be held from 6,500 polling stations, while videography will be carried out at 4,600 booths," he said.
Rao said 78,870 EVMs will be used during the poll.