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Brisk polling in Rajasthan

Brisk polling in Rajasthan

Jaipur: Millions voted across Rajasthan Sunday in elections to pick a new 200-seat assembly in India's largest state.

Polling began at 8 a.m., and by noon 18-20 percent of the over 40 million electorate had exercised their franchise, officials said here.

"The polling is peaceful and is expected to pick up during the day," an Election Commission official told IANS.

In 2008, Rajasthan recorded 66.25 percent of voting. The Congress came to power then.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, former chief minister and BJP state president Vasundhara Raje, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gulab Chand Kataria and assembly speaker Deependra Singh were among those who voted early.

The electronic voting machines broke down in some places. They were quickly repaired or replaced.

Polling is on under tight security in more than 47,000 centres. Of these, some 10,000 have been declared "sensitive" -- official euphemism to mean they are prone to violence.

There are 2,087 candidates in the fray.

The Congress and the BJP are contesting in all the seats while the National Peoples Party (NPP) has put up candidates in 150 and the Bahujan Samaj Party in over 100 seats.

The state is witnessing a keen tussle between the BJP, which is determined to return to power, and the Congress, which is hoping for a second straight win.

In the outgoing house, the Congress held 102 seats and the BJP 79.

Mayawati's BSP and NPP are trying to make a dent in the vote bank of both the major parties. The BSP won six seats in 2008 but all six legislators joined the Congress.

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