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Modest, peaceful polling in first two hours
December 12, 2002 11:50 IST
Modest voting was reported during the first two hours of polling for the Gujarat assembly elections. While reports spoke of a modest turnout in urban areas, voting was yet to gain momentum in rural areas.
"Voting has so far been proceeding smoothly and there have been no reports of any untoward incident," sources in the election office in Ahmedabad said.
In Ahmedabad, queues were seen in several constituencies as polling began. In Naroda-Patiya, the minority dominated assembly segment was one of the worst affected in the post-Godhra violence, a moderate turnout was witnessed. The Dariapur-Kazipur constituency in the city, having a sizeable minority population, saw considerable voting.
Polling was, however, dull in Surat and adjoining areas in the first few hours.
Brisk voting was reported at some polling stations in Godhra, where the BJP has fielded Bajrang Dal leader Haresh Bhatt against R Patel (Congress). Polling at some booths was stopped for a while due to a snag in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), being used in all the 181 constituencies. The poll in the Surat (West) seat has been countermanded due to the death of a candidate.
Among the early voters was caretaker Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who cast his vote in the Sarkhej constituency in suburban Ahmedabad.
Modi, who himself is contesting from the high-profile Maninagar constituency, flashed a victory sign after casting his vote and said the people of the state would give a 'fitting reply' to those, who for the last nine months, had launched a 'malicious' campaign to defame Gujarat.
Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani and his wife Kamla cast their votes in Shahpur constituency in Ahmedabad from where Kaushik Patel, a minister in the Modi cabinet, is the candidate.
Nearly 40,000 paramilitary personnel along with 70,000 policemen have been deployed across the border state to ensure peaceful polling, which is also being witnessed by 17 diplomats from the US, Britain, European Union, The
Netherlands, Italy and Sweden.
The state's borders have been sealed and the Coast Guard is maintaining a strict vigil along the coast.
About 37,000 polling booths have been set up across the state to enable an estimated 32.8 million (3.28 core) voters to exercise their franchise. As many as 14,707 polling booths in 22 out 25 districts have been declared 'sensitive' by the Election Commission. Counting of votes will be taken up on Sunday.
There was a minor commotion at Jetpur in Rajkot following reports of detection of a crude bomb at Bosamia college, but police said it was a hoax.
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