JAIPUR: Polling began Friday morning for 199 Assembly seats out of the 200 in Rajasthan, a key state which the BJP is fighting to retain. According to an official spokesperson, polling began at 8 am in all the 51,687 booths set up across the state.

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje (Jhalrapatan), Congress state president Sachin Pilot (Tonk), former chief minister Ashok Gehlot (Sardarpura) are among the 2,274 candidates in the fray. The election in Ramgarh constituency of Alwar district was put off following the death of Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Laxman Singh.

The results will be out on December 11, along with those from the other four states which saw Assembly elections in the past few weeks. The outcome of the elections in Rajasthan, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram is expected to set the tone for the Lok Sabha contest next year. Raje, who is the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, is fighting against veteran BJP leader Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra Singh in Jhalrapatan, the constituency she has represented since 2003.

Manvendra Singh switched to the Congress just before the election, making the fight tougher for Raje this time. She had won 63 per cent of the votes cast in 2013, winning the seat by a margin of 60,896. Tonk, with a sizeable Muslim population, is a keenly-watched contest between Sachin Pilot and BJP candidate and Rajasthan Transport Minister Yoonus Khan, who is the saffron party’s only Muslim face in the elections.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had initially fielded sitting MLA Ajit Singh Mehta in Tonk. But in a change of strategy, the party dropped him and sent Khan to take on Pilot. This is a maiden assembly election for Pilot, a two-time MP who is seen as a chief ministerial possibility if the Congress wins. He has represented Dausa and Ajmer Lok Sabha constituencies in the past.