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Last Updated : Dec 09, 2017 05:32 PM IST | Source: PTI

Over 45% voter turnout recorded till 2 pm in Gujarat polls

Over 45 percent voter turnout was recorded till 2 pm on Saturday in the 89 seats Gujarat Assembly seats that went to polls on Saturday.

Representative image.
Representative image.

Over 45 percent voter turnout was recorded till 2 pm on Saturday in the 89 seats Gujarat Assembly seats that went to polls on Saturday.

The Election Commission (EC) said that 45.61 percent voters exercised their franchise between 8 am and 2 pm. The voting will end at 5 pm.

The highest turnout of 57.26 percent was recorded in the tribal-dominated Tapi district, while Porbandar district in Saurashtra region recorded the lowest turnout of 40.06 percent so far.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) for Gujarat B B Swain said that though voting would end at 5 pm, those standing in queues outside polling booths before the process ends would be given a chance to cast their votes.

The polling process is going on in a smooth manner across the state without any incident of violence or any major issues, he said.

However, there were reports of technical glitches in EVMs in Surat and some other centres. The polling process resumed after the machines were replaced, EC officials said.

"We received complaints of faulty EVMs from some places and all such machines have been replaced with the spare ones kept at the polling stations," Swain said.

A total turn out of 71.32 percent was recorded in the last election to the 182-member Assembly. In 2012, out of the 89 seats, 63 were won by the BJP, while the opposition Congress had won 22 with others bagging four.

After the polling process began at 8 am, people could be seen stepping out of their houses despite the cold weather and queueing up to cast votes at polling stations.

With the marriage season on, brides and grooms, clad in wedding finery, came to polling booths along with their relatives to exercise their franchise. Many such voters were seen in Bharuch, Bhavnagar, Gondal and Surat.

A 115-year-old woman from Upleta town of Rajkot, Aajiben Chandravadia, also voted today.

A majority of the candidates of major parties cast their votes by noon while people were still making a beeline at polling booths in large numbers.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, his opponent on the Rajkot-West seat Indranil Rajyaguru, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani and Congress MLA of Amreli seat Paresh Dhanani were among key leaders who cast their votes.

Cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara and former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel also exercised their franchise in Rajkot.

A total of 89 seats out of 182  — spanning Saurashtra and south Gujarat regions — are up for grabs in the first phase with 977 candidates in the fray.

Prominent candidates featuring in today's battle include Chief Minister Rupani, Congress's Shaktisinh Gohil (Mandvi) and Paresh Dhanani (Amreli).

The election is being viewed as a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a litmus test for the soon-to-be Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

The high-octane poll campaign shaped up as a duel between Modi and Gandhi and often turned personal.

The BJP is banking on its performance and Modi's popularity to counter any anti-incumbency or the impact of the Patidar quota stir. Modi has attacked the Congress over the issue of dynastic politics and corruption and invoked "Gujarati pride' in his campaign speeches.

Modi addressed about 15 rallies while Gandhi spent more than seven days in Saurashtra and south Gujarat, addressing a number of meetings and emerging as the Congress pivot to take on the prime minister in his home turf.

The second phase of voting will be held on December 14 and the results will be out on December 18.

The Congress, in the political wilderness in Gujarat for nearly 22 years, is desperate to break the jinx. It has raised questions over BJP's "development model", besides demonetisation and GST.
First Published on Dec 9, 2017 05:30 pm
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