New Delhi: Around 2.21 crore voters across 89 constituencies will decide among 977 candidates as Gujarat holds the first phase of crucial Assembly elections on Saturday. Prominent names in the fray include Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who is contesting from Rajkot (West), Congress' Shaktisinh Gohil (Mandvi) and Paresh Dhanani (Amreli).
Here’s all you need to know about the first phase of polling:
— The 89 constituencies are spread out in the 19 districts of Kutch, Saurashtra and southern regions.
— A total of 977 candidates are in the fray from Kutch, Morbi, Jamnagar, Surendranagar, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Rajkot, Botad, Porbandar, Junagadh, Amreli, Gir Somnath, Bhavnagar, Bharuch, Narmada, Surat, Tapi, Navsari, Dang and Valsad districts.
— Of the 89 seats, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds 67 and the Congress 16. One seat each is held by the NCP and JD-U while Independents hold the remaining two.
— The most striking battle on Saturday will be in Rajkot West, presently held by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. He is being challenged by Congress candidate Indraneel Rajyaguru, the outgoing MLA from Rajkot East and the richest candidate in fray.
— Another outgoing Congress MLA, Paresh Dhanani, from Amreli is challenged by a former Congress leader and now BJP MLA -- in Lathi constituency.
— The Saurashtra region will see some more high profile battles involving cabinet minister Babubhai Bokhiria, Arjun Modhwadia of Congress and former Finance and Power Minister Saurabh Patel.
—There are a total of 24,689 polling booths. Of the 2,12,31,652 voters, 1,11,05,933 are males and 1,01,25,472 females, while 247 are from the third gender.
— There are eight seats with more than 16 candidates. The maximum of 27 are in Jamnagar Rural seat. There are just three candidates each in Jhagadia and Ganadevi constituencies, both Scheduled Tribe seats. Wherever there are more than 16 candidates, two ballot units will be put up.
— In the run-up to the first phase of elections, PM Narendra Modi addressed 14 rallies while Rahul Gandhi campaigned in these districts for seven days, visiting temples at Somnath, Chotila and Dwarka.