With Gujarat voting in the first phase of its 2017 Assembly elections on Saturday for 89 constituencies, the contest seems neck and neck between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) and the Congress, say observers.
Voting for first phase began at 8 am on Saturday, with around 21,231,652 registered voters.
However, it is to be seen whether developments leading to the elections, be it the discontent arising out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation being latched on by Congress or the all out efforts by BJP
led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
and team, would result in the highest voter turnout
Apparently, it was the previous state assembly elections in 2012 that had seen the highest turnout
of over 71.32 per cent in the history of Gujarat's polls.
Prior to this, the highest voting was recorded in 1995 with 64.39 per cent polling.
In the first phase of assembly elections in 2012, around 18.1 million voters decided the fate of 846 candidates in 87 constituencies with a heavy turnout
of 68 per cent. It needs to be seen if the record turnout
for the first phase would be broken this time.
"If it is a higher turnout
then the anti-establishment mood gets accentuated, with various communities like Dalits and OBCs coming out to vote. If it is not a higher turnout, then it is neck and neck between Congress and BJP, which most of the surveys are now predicting," says social scientist and political analyst Achyut Yagnik.
had, apparently, declared its manifesto on Friday, right ahead of the first phase elections, keeping its focus on maintaining the current growth rate of the state.
Second phase of the previous elections in the state had seen 70 per cent turnout
among the 19.8 million eligible voters for 95 out of 182 constituencies. This time, 93 constituencies would go for voting in the second phase on December 14.
In 2012, of the 38 million eligible voters in the state, over 27.15 million voted in two phases of the polls
held on December 13 and December 17, respectively. Nearly 73 per cent of male voters exercised their franchise, while 69.48 per cent women came out to vote during the two phase polling.
The previous elections saw the tribal district of South Gujarat registering highest voters turnout.
As many as 50 per cent of district, that is, 13 out of 26, have had more than 70 per cent voting turnout.
The tribal district of Narmada
with 82.21 per cent voting which is the highest among all districts, followed by Tapi
(80.43 per cent), Navsari (75.59 per cent), Sabarkantha (75.56 per cent), Bharuch (75.11 per cent), Banaskantha and Anand with 74.89 per cent each
As many as 1666 candidates were in fray for the 182 seats of the state assembly in 2012.