Polling began for all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat where elections are being held today in a single phase amid tight security arrangements. Chief Minister and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi cast his vote in Gandhinagar.
More than 4.05 crore electors (2.12 crore male and 1.93 crore female) will decide the fate of 334 candidates who are contesting from 26 seats of the state, where the main fight is between the Congress and the BJP.
Prominent among those in the fray are Chief Minister and BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi (from Vadodara) and veteran BJP leader L K Advani (Gandhinagar). Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry is challenging Modi in Vadodara, while senior leader Shankarsinh Vaghela is contesting from Sabarkantha. The Aam Aadmi Party, striving to emerge as a third alternative in the state, has fielded candidates in 24 seats.
Voting will take place amid extreme heat conditions in the state, with the maximum temperature remaining above 43 degrees Celsius in many parts. Weather forecasters have warned that the extreme heat conditions will continue today also. The Election Commission of India has extended the time of casting of votes by two hours. They have also made arrangements of water at polling booths.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made with more than one lakh police and para-military personnel being deployed to ensure free and fair polls. The ECI has identified 23 per cent booths out of 45,380 polling stations as vulnerable and critical. A hectic campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections had ended earlier with BJP aiming for a clean sweep, banking on the "Modi factor", and Congress fighting back to deny it a walk-over. BJP's campaign is centred around the fact that Modi, "a son of the soil", is the party candidate for the top job.
Invoking Gujarati pride, it is seeking to win all 26 seats. Congress has employed its two big guns, party president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi for campaigning in the state. Ahmed Patel, Sonia's political secretary, was stationed in the state to manage the campaign for last few days.
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal undertook 'a fact-finding' tour of the state earlier this month, targeting Modi over his development claims.