The first phase of voting for the Gujarat Assembly elections on Thursday saw 68 per cent of its 18 million voters turning up to exercise their franchise. As many as 846 candidates, including bigwigs from the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress were in the fray for 87 seats in Saurashtra and South Gujarat regions, which went off peacefully.
“The polling in first phase recorded a historic high of 68 per cent,” deputy election commissioner Vinod Zutshi said adding there were 214 cases of electronic voting machine (EVM) malfunctioning.
He said the first phase on of Assembly polls in 2007 had seen a turnout of 59.77 per cent. “The increase is nearly 15 per cent compared to the last elections,” Zutshi said, adding the figures given by him were rough estimates based on reports from polling stations.
|THE RACE BEGINS
Gujarat Assembly elections, phase -I (District-wise average polling percentage)
|Ahmedabad (4 ACs)||66.8|
|Total voting phase-I (2012)||68.0%|
|Voting during phase-I (2007)||59.7%|
|Source: State Election Commissioner|
Eleven ministers from the Narendra Modi government were in the fray from Saurashtra and South Gujarat. State BJP chief R C Faldu and state Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia contested from Jamnagar Rural and Porbander, respectively. Modhwadia was pitted against old rival and former BJP minister Babu Bokhiria, while Faldu contested against Raghavji Patel from the Congress.
Also in the fray was a new entrant — the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) — headed by former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel. The GPP president, contesting a poll after nearly a decade, was pitted against his former protégé, Kanu Bhalala, of the BJP at Visavadar in Junagadh. Bhalala is the sitting MLA. GPP general secretary Gordhan Zadafiya faced off against Jayrajsinh Parmar of the BJP from Gondal, Rajkot.
There are 48 seats in Saurashtra, 35 in South Gujarat and four in Central Gujarat where the polling took place. The BJP contested all 87 seats, the Congress 84 while the GPP put up a fight in 83 seats.
“It’s a BJP storm in Gujarat. From the news I am getting, wherever there is voting, all records of previous voting have been broken,” said on the first phase of polling. “This shows that these elections are not being fought by the BJP or its candidates, the people of Gujarat are fighting them. I know the people, I know their problems and also know the solutions to the problems you face,” Modi said.
Phase-II of polling is scheduled for December 17, while votes will be counted on December 20.