The high-voltage poll battle will on Thursday reach Rajasthan where voters are set to decide the fate of 239 candidates in the month-long Lok Sabha elections.
The opening phase of Elections 2014 in the state will be crucial for the ruling party, the BJP, as 16 out of the 20 seats are presently ruled by the Congress. The saffron party’s MPs hold only Bikaner, Churu, Jhalawar, and Jalore seats.
The Congress and the BJP are in a direct fight on 12 seats which include Jaipur, Ajmer, Banswara, Bhilwara, Bikaner, Jhalawar, Chittorgarh, Jodhpur, Pali, Rajsamand, Udaipur and Kota.
The limelight will be on Barmer and Sikar constituencies, where BJP rebels Jaswant Singh and Subhash Maharia are contesting respectively as Independents.
Singh entered the contest as an Independent against the BJP’s Colonel Sonaram and the Congress’ sitting MP Harish Choudhary. Ram was earlier with the Congress. Singh raised the banner of revolt after he was denied ticket and was expelled from the BJP.
Other prominent contests would be seen in Ajmer -- where state Congress president and Union minister Sachin Pilot is fighting to retain his seat – and Jaipur rural -- where former Union minister CP Joshi will go up against Olympian Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
Among others who will receive the people’s verdict in Rajasthan on April 17 are Union ministers Girija Vyas, Chandresh Kumari, Jitendra Singh and MP Jyoti Mirdha. Former Congress leader Buta Singh has thrown his gauntlet from Jalore as an Independent.
The Jhunjhunu constituency is set to witness a crucial contest that will test the political legacy of Jat stalwart and Congress leader late Sis Ram Ola. His daughter-in-law, Rajbala Ola, is contesting from the seat for first time.
Over 3.48 crore people, including 1.65 crore women, are eligible to vote in the election for which 27,664 polling stations have been set up. 5,942 of them have been designated “critical”, a state electoral office spokesman said.