Ahmedabad: A voter turnout of 59.19 percent was recorded till 5 pm on Monday across 93 seats in the second and final phase of the Assembly elections in Gujarat, said the Elections Commission (EC), down from nearly 70 percent polling registered in these constituencies in 2017.
Barring a few untoward incidents, the polling was peaceful in the 93 Assembly seats spread across 14 districts of north and central regions of Gujarat, where 833 candidates were in the fray.
The state administration received multiple complaints of malfunctioning of EVMs (electronic voting machines) and VVPATs (voter verifiable paper audit trails) from many places due to which voting at those booths were impacted.
The provisional voter turnout in the second phase till 5 pm was 59.19 percent, the EC said, adding the figure is expected to increase as many people were still standing in queues at many booths.
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The final voting figure is expected to rise further as collecting data from some polling stations takes time and the number does not include postal ballots.
The final voter turnout in the second phase of the 2017 Assembly election on these 93 seats stood at 69.99 percent.
The turnout in the first phase of the 2022 elections across 89 Assembly seats, where voting took place on December 1, was 63.31 percent.
Gujarat, which has a 182-member House, had registered 68.41 percent voting in the Assembly polls five years ago.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Sukhram Rathva of the Congress were prominent among those who cast their votes in the second and final phase of elections.
The electoral fate of CM Patel of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and 832 other candidates in the fray in the second phase, including 285 independents, was locked in the EVMs.
District-wise, Sabarkantha recorded the highest voting at 65.84 percent. Ahmedabad district recorded the lowest turnout at 53.57 percent till 5 pm. In Vadodara, it was 58 percent, the EC said.
Prime Minister Modi voted at a polling station at Nishan High School in Ahmedabad city’s Ranip area in the morning. His centenarian mother Hiraba Modi cast her ballot at a polling station in Gandhinagar district.
Union Minister Shah exercised his franchise at a municipal centre in Naranpura locality of Ahmedabad city.
AAP leader Gadhvi voted at a booth in Ghuma locality here. He is the AAP candidate from the Khambhalia seat in Devbhumi Dwarka district where polling was held in the first phase on December 1.
Apart from CM Bhupendra Patel, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor, and Congress leader Jignesh Mevani were among those in the fray in the second phase of polls.
Voting began at 8 am across 14,975 polling stations.
The poll body said 41 ballot units, 40 control units, and 109 voter-verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs) were replaced due to malfunctioning during the initial hours of voting. A VVPAT is connected with EVM through a printer and allows a voter to check if his/her vote has been cast as per his/her wishes.
Congress candidate from Kalol in Panchmahal district Prabhatsinh Chauhan alleged he was attacked by unidentified persons who, he alleged, also damaged his vehicle.
State Congress president Jagdish Thakor accused the Election Commission of ”sitting in the lap of the BJP.” He said despite the Congress complaining of slow voting in Assembly seats won in 2017, the poll authorities did not resolve the matter.
”We have complained of slow voting on Congress seats (won in 2017). We have lodged a complaint but there is no resolution…It seems as if the Election Commission is sitting in the lap of the BJP,” he said after casting his vote at Naroda locality in Ahmedabad city.
The BJP and the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP contested all 93 seats. The Congress contested 90 seats and its alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has fielded candidates on two Assembly segments.
Among other parties, the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) has fielded 12 candidates, and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 44.
In the 2017 Assembly polls, the ruling BJP had won 51 of these seats, Congress 39, while three seats went to independent candidates.
In central Gujarat, the BJP had bagged 37 seats, outnumbering the Congress which got 22. But in north Gujarat, the Congress had bagged 17 seats, while the saffron party got 14.
The counting of votes polled in all the 182 Assembly seats will be taken up on December 8. Altogether, 1,621 candidates are vying for the 182 seats.
At least 5,200 voters from three villages in Mehsana district boycotted voting alleging the state government has failed to resolve their long-pending issues, including water shortage.
An official said the villagers remained adamant on their stand despite the government has already accepted the main demand to fill up all the lakes in their areas with the Narmada water.
This was the third year in a row that villagers from Varetha, Dalisana, and Davol in Kheralu taluka refrained from exercising their franchise in different elections, the official said.
Bed-ridden people, patients on oxygen support, senior citizens including centenarians, and transgender persons were among those who came out to vote in the elections.
Differently-abled Ankit Soni, who was born without arms, used his toes to sign a form at a polling booth and push the button on the EVM in Nadiad town of Kheda district.
Cricketer brothers Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Pathan exercised their franchise in Vadodara.
Many citizens above the age of 100 went to their respective polling booths to cast votes in different parts of the state.
In a tweet, Gujarat’s Chief Electoral Officer P Bharathi praised 110-year-old Shantaben Thakor, who exercised her franchise in Vijapur town of Mehsana district.