New Delhi: People of Madhya Pradesh have started voting for the 230-member Assembly in Madhya Pradesh with 1.80 lakh security personnel deployed on duty to ensure peaceful polling in the state. 

Firing was reported near polling booth number 72 in Bhind assembly constituency and three people have been arrested. However, no one was injured in the incident. 

The state has seen a bipolar polity and will see a straight between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress. While 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.

As many as 2,899 candidates, including 1,094 independents, are in the fray for today’s one-phase elections. 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).

According to election officials, the voter turnout till 3 pm was 50%.

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According to State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) VL Kantha Rao, 3,00,782 government employees, including 45,904 women, have been deployed on poll duty across Madhya Pradesh, 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. He said 78,870 EVMs will be used during the poll.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan: BJP’s shining star

The chief minister is the 17th chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. He has delivered on infrastructure, especially roads and electricity, agricultural growth and welfare schemes. Even his critics acknowledge that. These accomplishments helped him win the 2008 and 2013 state elections, since he first became chief minister in 2003. 

In this election, Chouhan must also battle the perception that power is tightly controlled by members of his family and select bureaucrats, besides corruption scams like Vyapam (the scam involved politicians and bureaucrats securing government jobs for undeserving candidates through cheating and bribe).

Shivraj Singh Chouhan, while speaking to media after casting his vote in Budhni, urged voters to come out and exercise their franchise. He said, "We’re 100% certain that BJP will form the government with an absolute majority. We have set a target of 200 seats and our lakhs of volunteers are working to make it a reality."

Polling is also underway for the 40-member Assembly in Mizoram with over 7.70 lakh voters expected to exercise their franchise in the state where Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla is seeking a third consecutive term and the BJP is looking to uproot the Congress in its last bastion in the Northeast.