Gujarat has voted, and by the look of it, it is going to be a decisive vote. It is not easy to predict whether we will see a Modi hat-trick or a comeback by the Congress after close to two decades, but it can be safely said that it would be a decisive verdict.
After 70.75% turnout in the first phase of elections, the second phase of polling on Monday also registered more than 70% voting. Both phases combined, this is the highest ever polling recorded in Gujarat. Further, the turnout figures are likely to be revised upwards.
“The final turnout across the state was 70.20%, while it was just marginally lower at 70.10% in the 17 seats of Ahmedabad,” state’s chief electoral officer, Anita Karwal said.
However, unlike in the first phase when polling was by and large peaceful, the second phase was marred by violence at several places. In one incident in Panchmahals, BJP MLA and Shehra nominee Jetha Bharwad allegedly fired on some residents of Tarsang village. Four persons were injured in the incident.
Ahmedabad too witnessed a few violent incidents. As in the first phase, serpentine queues were seen outside polling booths across 95 assembly constituencies since morning as voters turned out in large numbers to cast their vote.
Seven per cent votes were cast by the end of the first hour; this increased to 21% at the end of three hours at 11 am. Women and young voters also turned out in large numbers to exercise their right to vote. At several booths, many voters were unable to vote as their names were missing from the electoral list.
Voting took place at 23,318 polling stations amidst elaborate security arrangements. In Ahmedabad, 3,816 polling booths were set up for polling.
The fate of 820 candidates, including chief minister Narendra Modi, former CM Shankarsinh Vaghela, and as many as 15 ministers in the Modi cabinet, has been sealed in electronic voting machines.
Chief minister Narendra Modi, who is contesting from Maninagar, cast his vote at Nishan High School in Ranip, and exuded confidence about scoring a hat-trick.
“I thank all the voters. The people of Gujarat will vote BJP to power for a third consecutive term in this election,” Modi told reporters after exercising his right to vote.
According to the Election Commission, an average of 38% voters in the state had exercised their right to vote by 1:00 pm on Monday. The turnout was similar in Ahmedabad; an estimated 37.5% votes were cast in the city till 1:00 pm. By 3:00 pm, the turnout in Ahmedabad was 56.5%, marginally higher than the overall turnout of 56% in the state by then.
Karwal said that more than 72% polling was registered in Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Gandhinagar and Panchmahals, while lowest 64.5% turnout was recorded in Kutch.
Among other districts, Anand and Mehsana recorded 71% turnout, while Anand, Kheda and Vadodara registered 70% polling. Dahod registered 68% voting.