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PIX: 70 pc turnout in 2nd phase of polling in Gujarat

Last updated on: December 17, 2012 19:41 IST

PIX: 70 pc turnout in 2nd phase of polling in Gujarat

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In a repeat of the record turnout in the first phase, the second phase of Gujarat Assembly elections on Monday saw 70 per cent polling in the toughest electoral test for Chief Minister Narendra Modi who is seeking a third term.

 

Counting of votes will be taken up on Thursday with the massive turnout being a subject of intense speculation on which party would benefit.

 

An Election Commission official here said an estimated 70 per cent cast their ballots in the second and final phase.

 

A record 70.75 per cent of the eligible voters cast their ballots in the first of the two-phase elections last Thursday with the average polling being a little over 70 percent. The highest polling recorded in the previous Assembly elections was 63.70 per cent in 1967.

The poll was marred by a firing incident involving BJP MLA from Sahera in Panchmahal district Jetha Bharwad in which four people were injured. Bharwad has been detained and investigation is on.

"An estimated 68 to 69 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the second phase of polling," a source in the state election office told PTI.
Like the first phase on December 13 when a record 70.75 per cent voters exercised their franchise, the final phase of balloting in 95 of state's 182 seats too saw a huge voter turnout to decide the electoral fate of 822 candidates including Modi and Shankar Singh Vaghela, a former chief minister and one of the contenders for the top job if Congress returns to power.

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Controversial former minister of state for home, Amit Shah, accused in Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati encounter cases, Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas and Revenue Minister Anandiben Patel are also among those in the fray.

While Modi, seeking a third straight win from Maninagar, is crossing sword with Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service officer Sanjeev Bhatt, Jagruti Pandya, wife of slain BJP leader Haren Pandya of Gujarat Parivartan Party, is trying her luck from Ellis Bridge seat.

A Modi-baiter, Sanjeev Bhatt has accused Modi of complicity in post-Godhra communal riots, and is fighting legal battle against him.

Haren Pandya's family has blamed Modi for his "political murder". Pandya had twice won the Ellis Bridge seat in 1995 and 1998, before being denied BJP nomination, allegedly at the behest of Modi, in 2002.

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Image: Modi casts his vote during the second phase of Gujarat elections in Ahmedabad
Photographs: Reuters

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PIX: 70 pc turnout in 2nd phase of polling in Gujarat

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The BJP has fielded candidates in all 95 constituencies, while the Congress is contesting in 92. Gujarat Parivartan Party of former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, who broke away from BJP months ahead of the polls, and the Bahujan Samaj Party are contesting 84 seats each. There are also 284 Independents in the fray.

The constituencies where polling was held included 17 in Ahmedabad city, 40 in five districts -- Vadodara, Dahod, Panchmahal, Kheda and Anand- of central Gujarat, 32 in Patan, Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Gandhinagar and Banaskantha seats of north Gujarat and in six in Kutch district.

"I thank all the voters. In this election, people of Gujarat will do a hat-trick by giving a third term to us. People of the state will once again vote BJP to power... The sentiments of the people here are giving you a clear indication of that," Modi told reporters, exuding confidence after casting his vote.

"This election will be historic in India as it has been contested on the issues of good governance and development," he said.


Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
Photographs: Reuben N V/Rediff.com

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PIX: 70 pc turnout in 2nd phase of polling in Gujarat

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Asked if he would shift to Delhi in the event of an emphatic win, Modi, one of the prime ministerial aspirants in the BJP if the National Democratic Alliance is voted to power in the general elections, said, "I am committed to my six crore Gujaratis... I live for them and I personally believe whatever I am doing in Gujarat is a service to the nation, because Gujarat is an integral part of India."

Meanwhile, the Congress has filed a complaint against Modi for alleged violation of the model code of conduct by 'campaigning' on the polling day."After coming out of the polling booth, the chief minister addressed the crowd outside and by showing the 'V' sign.

He appealed to the voters to make victorious the BJP candidate," advocate and Congress's legal cell member Vijay Kanara, who filed the complaint with the election authorities, said. "He is not a candidate from the area where he cast his ballot and appealing for victory of the BJP candidate is a clear violation of the model code of conduct and EC should immediately take action against him," said Kanara, who also objected to Modi coming there in a large convoy with scores of party workers and supporters.Barring the firing incident at Tarsang village in Sahera constituency in Panchmahal district in which four people were injured, balloting was by and large peaceful across the state.

"At present Jetha Bharwad is under detention and further probe is underway to ascertain who exactly fired, Bharwad or his commando," said Director General of Police Chittranjan Singh.



 


Image: Shankarsinh Vaghela


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PIX: 70 pc turnout in 2nd phase of polling in Gujarat

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According to Panchmahal Superintendent of Police Sachin Badshah, Bharwad was attacked by a stone-pelting crowd following which his bodyguard open fired wounding four people.Bharwad received head injury and has been detained while undergoing treatment at a local hospital.

His Congress rival Takhatsingh Solanki, who belongs to Tarsang, alleged, "It was pre-planned by Jetha Bharwad so that he can terrorise the voters of my village and engage in bogus voting. Otherwise he has no business to enter in my village at the time of voting."

Serpentine queues were seen since morning outside polling stations with women and youth turning out in large numbers.The massive voting in urban pockets and districts of north and central Gujarat, is expected to shore up the electoral prospects of BJP as Keshubhai's Leuva community voters are fewer in number in these areas.

Kadva Patels along with Leuvas have been traditional voters of the BJP, but in seats of Saurashtra and Kutch belt a section of the latter was said to have voted against the saffron party candidates.

The BJP hopes to nullify whatever damage octogenarian Keshubhai's party might have caused it in Saurashtra-Kutch belt aided by heavy polling in the urban sprawls, which have seen rapid development under Modi, and seats of north and central Gujarat.


Image: GPP chief Keshubhai Patel
Photographs: Courtesy: GPP website

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