Gujarat Phase II: 2.23cr voters in 93 constituencies cast ballot
About 2.3cr voters across 93 constituencies in North and Central Gujarat are casting their ballot in the second phase of the Gujarat elections today. Campaigning turned more aggressive after the first phase on December 9, with PM Narendra Modi alleging Pakistan was interfering to ensure a Congress win. This election is a crucial test for the BJP, which is facing 20+ years of incumbency.
This time, 851 candidates including Deputy CM Nitin Patel are testing their luck in Ahmedabad, Banaskantha, Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Vadodara and more. Reports of EVM malfunctioning emerged from at least three polling stations in Vadodara. At many places, polling had to be halted. The Hindu reported a turnout of 39% by 12pm. Results will be declared on December 18.
PM Narendra Modi visited Sabarmati to cast his vote. As he walked on the road with an inked finger, the crowd chanted 'Modi, Modi'. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, former CM Anandiben Patel, BJP chief Amit Shah, Deputy CM Nitin Patel, Patidar leader Hardik Patel, and Congress' Bharatsinh Solanki and Shankersinh Vaghela voted. Interestingly, Modi's mother and Hardik Patel's parents also cast their ballot.
This marks the first time that VVPAT machines are being deployed in all booths. Hundreds of companies of the Central Armed Police Forces, RAF and state police have been deployed. In 2012, the turnout in these regions was 72.64%, but considering turnout in the first phase dropped to 66.75%, similar trends are expected today. Many non-resident Gujaratis have returned just to cast their votes.
The first phase of polling across 89 constituencies in Saurashtra-Kutch and South Gujarat recorded a voter turnout of 66.75%. There will be repolling in six booths today after the EC cancelled their results: officials had forgotten to erase results of the mock drills held earlier.
This election is a key test for the BJP, which has won the last five state elections. In the aggressive run-up, Modi alleged Pakistan's interference in collusion with Congress. He also made what is being called India's first seaplane journey, though it turned out to have flouted many rules. Meanwhile, the EC has issued notice to Rahul Gandhi for giving interviews to TV channels.