Banking on the Ashok Gehlot dispensation's welfare measures in Rajasthan, will the Congress on Sunday buck the trend of the state not repeating a government in the past three decades?
In the last six assembly elections, the state voted the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress to power alternately.
While most pollsters have predicted an edge for the BJP in Rajasthan, three exit polls in their upper limit forecast a Congress win in the assembly polls held on November 25.
With varying predictions, nothing is being left to chance. The Congress as well as the BJP have started reaching out to Independent candidates, including rebels, and even smaller outfits in case there is a split verdict.
Preparations have been made at different levels to ensure that Independent and rebel candidates, who win the elections, are reached out to, sources in both parties said.
There are more than 40 rebels from the BJP and the Congress who contested the elections after they were denied tickets.
Some of them are expected to win, the sources said, ahead of counting of votes for 199 of the 200 assembly seats in Rajasthan on Sunday. There are 1,862 candidates in the fray.
The Congress is hopeful to break the 'riwaj' of the ruling party being voted out in every election. The BJP, however, has claimed that the electorate will keep to the practice.
The BJP based its campaign in the state on the development ushered by its government at the Centre and by targeting Chief Minister Gehlot on issues such as exam paper leaks and appeasement politics.
Though the Congress has not announced its chief ministerial candidate, it is believed that Gehlot is the frontrunner for the post.
The BJP too has fought the elections without naming a CM candidate, but Gehlot's predecessor Vasundhara Raje is one of the probables from the party.
Ahead of counting day, Raje had met Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders at the Bharti Bhawan in Jaipur on Friday evening.
On Saturday, the former chief minister visited the Moti Dungari Ganesh temple and Mehandipur Balaji temple in Dausa to offer prayers.
Sources said she is in touch with her loyalists and supporters who are contesting assembly elections to solidify her position before the results.
Rajasthan recorded a 75.45 per cent voter turnout on November 25, higher than the 74.71 per cent in 2018.
Due to the demise of the Congress' candidate in the Karanpur constituency, election there was postponed, and therefore, polling was conducted in 199 seats.
Leading the campaign for the Congress were its president Mallikarjun Kharge and leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Gehlot, the BJP's campaign was spearheaded by top leaders such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, its president J P Nadda, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and chief ministers Yogi Adityanath and Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The BJP had given tickets to 59 MLAs, including Congress MLA Girraj Singh Malinga, and six Lok Sabha members and one Rajya Sabha member.
The Congress had fielded 97 MLAs, including seven independent MLAs and Shobharani Kushwah who was expelled from the BJP last year.
One of the major faces who joined the BJP from the Congress and contested the assembly polls was former Nagaur MP Jyoti Mirdha.
Nagaur MP and Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) convener Hanuman Beniwal also contested the assembly elections. The RLP is contested in alliance with the Aazad Samaj Party (Kanshiram) led by Chandrashekhar Azad.
The BJP contested on all seats while the Congress left Bharatpur for its ally the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) like it did even in 2018.
The RLD currently holds the Bharatpur seat and Subhash Garg, who is the sitting MLA, contested the elections as its candidate.
Other parties which contested include the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Bharat Adiwasi Party, the Bhartiya Tribal Party, the Aam Aadmi Party and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.
In the exit polls predictions on November 30, India Today-Axis My India forecast a tight race, predicting 86-106 seats for the Congress, 80-100 seats for the BJP and others 9-18. Dainik Bhaskar gave 98-105 seats to the BJP and 85-95 to the Congress and Jan Ki Baat 100-122 to the BJP and 62-85 to the Congress.
TV9 Bharatvarsh-Polstrat predicted 100-110 for the BJP and 90-100 for the Congress, Times Now ETG 108-128 for the BJP and 56-72 for the Congress and Today's Chankaya gave a simple majority to the Congress.
India TV-CNX put the Congress' tally at 94 to 104 and the BJP's at 80-90, Republic TV-Matrize gave 115-130 seats to the BJP and 65-75 to the Congress, and P-MARQ 105-125 to the BJP and 69-91 to the Congress.
Jist-TIF-NAI predicted that in Rajasthan there would be continuation of the state's revolving door tradition.
Currently, the Congress has 107 MLAs, BJP 70, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) three, CPI (M) two and Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) two, Rashtriya Lok Dal one in the assembly. There are 13 Independents in the House. Two seats (Udaipur and Karanpur) are vacant.
Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Gupta said preparations for the counting have been completed.
"The counting of ballot papers will start at 8 pm. In total, 979 tables have been arranged for the counting of ballot papers across the state. Strong rooms will be opened in the presence of observers, candidates and their representatives," he said.