AHMEDABAD: Campaigning for the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections to be held on December 1 ended at 5 pm on Tuesday.
As many as 788 candidates are in the fray for 89 seats across 19 districts of south Gujarat and Kutch-Saurashtra regions where voting will be held on Thursday.
The state, which has traditionally witnessed a bipolar contest between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, has a third player this time in the form of Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has fielded candidates on 181 out of total 182 seats in the Assembly.
Among notable candidates in the first phase is Aam Aadmi Party's chief ministerial face Isudan Gadhvi, who is contesting from Khambhalia in Devbhumi Dwarka district.
Former Gujarat minister Parshottam Solanki, six-time MLA Kunwarji Bavaliya, Morbi 'hero' Kantilal Amrutiya, cricketer Ravindra Jadeja's wife Rivaba and Gujarat AAP president Gopal Italia are also in the fray.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP's campaign for the first phase while Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party president J P Nadda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and a host of other BJP leaders also addressed several rallies.
With AAP positioning itself as the main contender against the BJP, its national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal led a massive campaign covering the entire state within five months since July.
In the first phase, 89 candidates each of the BJP and Congress, and 88 of AAP are in the fray. AAP candidate for Surat East withdrew his nomination on the last day.
The BJP has fielded nine, Congress six and AAP five women candidates in the first phase. Of total 788 candidates in the fray in the first phase, 718 are male and only 70 female.
Mayavati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded 57 candidates in the first phase, Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) has fielded 14, Samajwadi Party 12, Communist Party of India (Marxist) four, Communist Party of India two candidates.
There are 339 independents.
According to the Election Commission, a total of 2,39,76,670 voters are registered in the areas covered by the first phase. This includes 1,24,33,362 male, 1,15,42,811 female and 497 third gender voters.
There are a total of 4,91,35,400 registered voters in Gujarat.
On the last day of campaigning for the first phase, Amit Shah, Nadda, Adityanath and Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant were scheduled to address rallies for the BJP.
Shah was to speak at rallies in Khedbrahma, Savli and Bhiloda, while Adityanath was to speak in Lunawada, Dabhoi and Godhra.
Prime Minister Modi was in Gujarat for two days on November 27-28 and addressed six rallies in Netrang, Kheda, Palitana, Anjar, Jamnagar and Rajkot.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was scheduled to hold road shows at Limbdi, Wadhwan, Botad, Dasada and Viramgam for AAP on Tuesday.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge addressed rallies in Mehsana and Ahmedabad on Monday and at Dediapada and Bapunagar in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
Voting will be held at 25,434 polling booths in the first phase of election -- 9,018 in urban areas and 16,416 in rural areas.
A total of 34,324 ballot units, 34,324 control units and 38,749 VVPATs (voter-verified paper audit trail) will be used in the first phase, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer said in a release.
A total of 2,20,288 trained officers-employees will be on duty. In the first phase, 27,978 presiding officers and 78,985 polling officers will be on duty.
As per section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, campaigning is prohibited 48 hours before the closing time of polling.