As Madhya Pradesh gears up for assembly polls on November 28, star candidates are a plenty in the fray from Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to noted royals and from bureaucrat-turned-politicians to doctors.
There are several commoners also, as are eunuchs trying their luck for the 230-member state assembly being ruled by the BJP for 15 consecutive years.
Chouhan is the BJP's chief ministerial face for the fourth time in a row and is contesting from his traditional Budhni seat in Sehore district.
While many Congress stalwarts including former chief minister Digvijay Singh, state Congress President Kamal Nath and Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia are not contesting the assembly polls, they also have a lot at stake to ensure their party's victory in their respective bastions.
In case of Digvijay Singh and a few other stalwarts, their family members are in the fray. Two most prominent self-proclaimed 'farmer-sons' Chouhan and former Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Arun Yadav are pitted against each other in the high-profile Budhni seat from where the present chief minister contested his first assembly election in 1989-90. Though Yadav belongs to Khargone district in Nimar region of the western Madhya Pradesh, he has been fielded by the Congress from Budhni this time to challenge Chouhan on his home turf.
While Chouhan has called Yadav a "scapegoat", the Congress leader is leaving no stone unturned by way of what he calls his expose of tall claims of development in the high profile constituency. "Despite Chouhan being elected four times from the seat, Budhni area remains backward in all spheres," Yadav told PTI.
Another BJP stalwart and minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia is contesting from Shivpuri seat for the fourth time, while former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's nephew Anoop Mishra is fighting from Bhitarwar in Gwalior district.
Public relations minister Narottam Mishra (Datia), former IPS officer Rustam Singh (Morena), ex-opposition leader Choudhary Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi (Bhind) are other prominent candidates. Digvijay Singh's son Jaivardhan is contesting from his forte Raghogarh for the second time in a row, while his brother Laxman Singh is trying his luck from Chanchoda seat.
Besides former powerful Congress leader Arjun Singh's son and leader of opposition Ajay Singh is contesting from his traditional Churht seat in Sidhi district. Another relative of Digvijay Singh and ex-royal of Khilchipur Priyavrat Singh, also a former MLA, is trying his luck again from Khilchipur seat in Rajgarh district.
Former Goa Governor and ex-King of Narsinghgarh, late Bhanu Pratap Singh's son and former MLA Rajyavardhan Singh is contesting on BJP ticket from his erstwhile kingdom Narsinghgarh. BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijywargiya's son Akash is contesting his maiden election from Indore-3 seat against the former Congress MLA Ashwin Joshi. This contest has also become prestigious for both the BJP and the Congress.
Former union minister, Kantilal Bhuria's son Dr Vikrant Bhuria is contesting his maiden election from tribal Jhabua seat, while another medical practitioner Dr Hiralal Alawa is testing political waters for the first time on a Congress ticket from Manawar seat in tribal Dhar district.
Among prominent women candidates, Archana Chitnis is contesting from Burhanpur seat while former Bhopal mayor Krishna Gaur, daughter-in-law of former minister Babu Lal Gaur, is contesting from Gaur's traditional seat Govindpura in Bhopal district. Former union minister and senior Congress leader Suresh Pachouri is pitted against sitting MLA and minister Surendra Patwa in Bhojpur seat of Raisen district.
Former union minister Sartaj Singh, who left BJP on denial of party ticket and joined Congress, is contesting against assembly speaker Dr Sitasharan Sharma from Hoshangabad seat. The prestige of the state Congress President Kamal Nath as well as of the state BJP president Rakesh Singh is at stake as both hail from Mahakoushal region.
Rakesh Singh is an MP from Jabalpur Lok Sabha seat while Nath is a long time member of the lower house of Parliament from Chhindwara.
Former health director Dr K L Sahu is contesting from newly floated outfit SAPAKS Samaj Party from Bhopal South West constituency. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) state head and IIT alumni Alok Agrawal is also contesting from Bhopal South West seat. Alok is the chief ministerial face of AAP in Madhya Pradesh.
Among six eunuchs contesting the polls, prominent are former MLA Shabnam Mousi is fighting from Kotma seat in Anooppur district and Neha Kinnar from Ambab seat in Morena district.
According to the EC data, a total number of 2,907 candidates are in the fray from 230 assembly seats. The highest number of 34 candidates will lock horns in Mehgaon constituency in Bhind district, while the lowest number of four candidates will battle it out in Gunnor seat in Panna district.
While the main contest is between the BJP and the Congress, the BSP has fielded 227 candidates and the SP is contesting on 51 seats. Aam Aadmi Party, contesting the Madhya Pradesh election for the first time, has fielded 208 candidates.
As per final electoral rolls, the state has 5,04,95,251 voters, including 2,63,01,300 males, 2,41,30,390 females and 1,389 third gender voters. Besides there are 62,172 postal voters. In the last assembly poll, the BJP had won 165 seats, Congress 58, BSP four and independents three.