AHMEDABAD/GANDHINAGAR/VADODARA: Polling for the high-stakes Gujarat elections drew to a close on Thursday as a total 68.7% of the 2.22 crore voters exercised their franchise in the second phase of assembly elections held on 93 seats in north and central Gujarat. Polling was a tad low compared to 2012 when the region had recorded 72.64% voting.
In the first phase of elections held on December 9 for 89 seats in Saurashtra and south Gujarat, 66.75% Voter Turnout was recorded.
Overall, the 2017 Gujarat assembly polls recorded voter turnout of 67.73%. Barring four incidents of violence at Visnagar, Savli, Anand and Palanpur, elections were largely peaceful.
“Four incidents of minor violence were recorded for which re-polling is not mandated. Decision may be taken after detailed inquiry report is submitted,” said BB Swain, the chief electoral officer (CEO) of Gujarat.
Sabarkantha district recorded highest voter turnout of 77% followed by Patidar agitation epicentre Mehsana that registered 75% polling. Tribal district Dahod recorded lowest voting of 60%.
Surprisingly, Ahmedabad city, which had a robust 69.16% voters exercising their franchise in 2012, saw a 6% dip with only 63% voting. The city, however, saw a galaxy of top politicians, including PM Narendra Modi, finance minister Arun Jaitley and BJP veteran LK Advani queuing up.
In Mehsana district, women came out in large numbers in all the six constituencies. Patidars, who dominate five out of the six seats, voted with gusto from early morning.
In Mehsana seat, Dy CM Nitin Patel is contesting against 33 candidates — a record for these elections. Voting was brisk across central Gujarat and Vadodara city and did not slacken through the day except afternoon hours. The tribal belt, according to initial projections, was a disappointment as the voting percentage here remained low as compared to last year. The rural seats of Vadodara saw a massive turnout with Dabhoi recording nearly 79.2%.
Widespread complaints of EVM malfunctioning and blue-tooth connecting with EVM machines were reported. In Mehsana, voting halted for nearly two hours in Patel Vidyalaya on Modhera Road after technical glitches hit the EVM machines.
In all, 44 complaints of violation of the model code of conduct were reported. “We’re examining all the complaints,” said Swain.
The second phase was a curtain call on the highly volatile Gujarat elections which is being pegged as litmus test for BJP which saw Congress ganging up with three young caste leaders — Patidar leader Hardik Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor and Dalit agitation leader Jignesh Mevani — in a bid to defeat the saffron party in Modi’s home-state and set stage for a direct battle between Modi and Gandhi for Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
The second phase has sealed fate of top BJP leaders including DyCM Nitin Patel, eight BJP ministers, Congress leader Siddharth Patel as well as Thakor and Mevani who are contesting assembly polls for the first time.
Source : timesofindia