Madhya Pradesh is all set to vote on Wednesday to elect a 230-member assembly, with 1.80 lakh security personnel deployed on duty to ensure peaceful polling in the state, where the ruling BJP and opposition Congress will vie for supremacy.
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.
Addressing a press conference Tuesday, State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) V L Kantha Rao said, "All preparations for the Wednesday polling have been completed. All polling parties have left for their respective booths and most of them have reached their destination".
He said polling will be held from 8 am to 5 pm in 227 seats, while in three assembly segments in Naxal-affected Balaghat district - Lanji, Paraswada and Baihar - voting time will be from 7 am to 3 pm.
Rao said 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.
He said physically challenged employees will manage 160 booths, while 3,046 polling centres will have all-women staff.
"As many as 40,487 vehicles, including 9,600 buses and 8,500 mini buses are being used in the polling process," Rao said.
Among the 2,899 candidates, 250 are women and five are from the third gender, the CEO said.
"The candidates include 1,794 from general category, 591 from Scheduled Castes and 514 from Scheduled Tribes. The highest number of seven female candidates are contesting from Chhatarpur, where 16 candidates are in the fray," Rao said.
The highest number of candidates - 34 - are in the fray in the Mehgaon constituency in Bhind district, while the lowest - 4 - is at Gunnor in Panna district," he said.
According to the final electoral roll, the state has 5,04,95,251 voters - 2,63,01,300 males, 2,41,30,390 females, 1,389 third gender and 62,172 postal electors.
The BJP is contesting all the 230 seats, while the Congress has fielded 229 candidates, leaving one seat, Jatara in Tikamgarh district, for its ally - Sharad Yadav's Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD).
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, in office since 2005, is seeking re-election from Budhni in Sehore district.
The BSP has fielded 227 candidates, while the SP is contesting on 52 seats.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), contesting the Madhya Pradesh elections for the first time, has fielded 208 candidates.
In reply to a question, Rao said so far Rs 100 crore, out of the Rs 411 crore budget, has been spent on the polling process.In the last assembly polls, the BJP had won 165 seats, the Congress 58, the BSP four and the independents three seats.