Gujarat votes today in 89 of state's 182 assembly constituencies spread across key Saurashtra and south Gujarat regions in first phase of the state elections. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, SC/ST leader Jignesh Mevani and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor are among the 977 candidates who are battling out in the first phase of the elections. Mr Rupani has claimed that there was no challenge for him and his party, the BJP, is headed for a huge win. The second phase of the Gujarat assembly elections will be held on December 14 and the results will be out on December 18.
Here are the key candidates in Gujarat Election 2017:
Vijay Rupani, a devoted RSS member since his school-days who is known for hard work but keeps a low profile, succeeded Anandiben Patel as the Chief Minister of the high-profile Gujarat state.
The 60-year-old first time MLA trumped all other contenders for the post. He wields considerable influence in Saurashtra, a politically significant part of Gujarat.
Vijay Rupani was made the chairman of the Gujarat Municipal Finance Board in 2013. In October 2014, he won Assembly bye-election from Rajkot West with a handsome margin after the sitting MLA Vajubhai Vala resigned upon appointment as Karnataka Governor.
On February 19, Mr Rupani became the state BJP president, replacing R C Faldu. It was seen as a victory for the Amit Shah faction in state BJP.
OBC leader in Gujarat Alpesh Thakor, 40, comes from Endla village of Ahmedabad district. He founded the Gujarat Kshatriya-Thakor Sena with an aim of liquor de-addiction in the community. He has also founded the OBC, SC, ST Ekta Manch, a social platform to demand proper reservations for people of the respective communities, shortly after the Patidar reservation agitation.
Alpesh Thakor's core team is drawn largely from his Sena. They are rough around the edges, shooting their mouths off, but expressions of acumen and ambition come naturally to them. Mr Thakor's father, Khodaji Thakore, switched from the BJP to the Congress in the mid-1990s. He denies that his first preference was the BJP. Mr Thakor is confident that the OBCs, mainly the Thakors, will vote for the Congress in key northern districts like Mehsana, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha.
The rapidly-growing Dalit agitation in the Gujarat has found a face - 35-year-old Jignesh Mevani who is a social activist and lawyer from Ahmedabad in Gujarat. He has led a protest march called Dalit Asmita Yatra after attack on Dalit men in Una village by claimed members of cow protection group. The march from Ahmedabad to Una was attended by over 20,000 Dalits including dalit women, who took a pledge to give up their traditional jobs of removing cow carcasses.
Mr Mevani has made it clear that he will not share the stage with the Congress or any other party and has time and again asserted that his sole aim is to defeat the BJP.
Along with Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, Jignesh Mevani is seen as a rising face in politics of Gujarat representing the Dalit community.