Campaigning ends for Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat
The hectic two-month-long campaigning for the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat that go to the polls in a single phase April 30 ended here Monday.
As in the past elections, the fight is expected to be largely between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.
The BJP campaign was orchestrated by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is also the party's prime ministerial candidate, while the Congress salvos were fired by party chief Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi.
Four seats are reserved for SCs and two for STs. An electorate of 3.99 crore, which comprises roughly 10 percent Muslims, will cast their votes at 45,380 polling stations.
In the 2009 election, barring candidates from the BJP and the Congress, all other 305 candidates - barring one from a regional party - forfeited their election security deposits. The situation was similar in 2004.
The tally in 2009 was BJP 15 and Congress 11 -- but the latter lost two more seats to the BJP in by-elections later, making its effective current strength nine.
In 2004, BJP won 14 seats and the Congress 12.
This time, the Congress is looking at a tally of 15 seats but partymen admit that the BJP is going all out to limit the Congress to a single-digit entity.
Not a single Muslim candidate has made it to the Lok Sabha in the past 25 years from the state, after Congress leader Ahmed Patel was last elected in 1989 from Bharuch.
There are 334 candidates in the fray, including 67 Muslim candidates.
The BJP has not put up a single Muslim candidate, while the Congress has nominated only one - Maksood Mirza from Navsari.
The Samajwadi Party has put up seven, while regional, smaller parties and independents make up the remaining 59 Muslims in the race.
The smallest constituency in terms of area is the affluent Ahmedabad spread over 107 square km, while the biggest is Kachchh, encompassing a massive 21,354 square km of dry semi-desert and underdeveloped areas.
In terms of electorate, the biggest is Navsari with 17,17,907 voters and neighbouring Bharuch is smallest with 13,92,669 voters, both falling in industrial zones.- IANS