62% turnout in Gujarat, marginally less than in 2014
Over 62 per cent voters exercised their franchise in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah's home state Gujarat, clocking only one per cent less than the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when the ruling party walked away with all 26 seats.
As polling, which was peaceful across all the constituencies, drew to a close with both major political parties in Gujarat expressing confidence of a good performance. There were 4.5 crore eligible voters in the state, including 11 lakh first-time voters.
BJP patriarch L.K.Advani, who was scheduled to vote at 12.30 p.m. at government Hindi Schol in the walled city area of Khanpur, got delayed. He reached Ahmedabad along with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and cast his vote around 1.30p.m. Former Ahmedabad Mayor Bhavna Dave told IANS: "Advani ji had 102 degree fever last night, but came to vote. I received him".
Reacting to the overall turnout, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, "Voting has been on expected lines comparable to 2014 and this reflects the BJP will bag all 26 seats again in Gujarat."
Congress spokesperson Himanshu Thakkar said, "The polling clearly shows the big talk of nationalism and development by the BJP has not worked. You can see it, there has been good percentage of voting in rural and tribal areas, while the urban areas remained apathetic."
The highest turnout of 74.09 per cent was reported from the tribal seat of Valsad in South Gujarat and lowest of 55.73 per cent was from the Amreli constituency, where Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani of the Congress is contesting.
Gandhinagar constituency, where BJP President Amit Shah was contesting, the turnout was 64.87 per cent, nearly one per cent less than in 2014 when BJP patriarch L.K. Advani had won with a margin of 4.82 lakh votes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, LK Advani, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Madhya Pradesh Governor and former chief minister Anandiben Patel are voters from Gandhinagar constituency.
Gujarat's Chief Election Officer (CEO) S. Murlikrishna told reporters: "Polling has been peaceful in the state so far. There were some complaints about EVM malfunctioning during the mock polls carried out prior to the election process in the morning. All those machines have been replaced. We have received 25 complaints overall, out of which one is about EVM."
A serious incident of miscreants threatening people with wooden batons in Junagadh Lok Sabha constituency in Saurashtra region, according Inspector-General of Police Narsimha Komar. He said the police had lodged an FIR against three people and one of them has been arrested.
Another serious similar complaint was reported in Dahod district. "A group of people threatened some agents in Jhalod in Dahod district. We have told the collector there to probe the matter. The Congress candidate in Porbandar also complained about bogus polling agents, which is being investigated," said Murlikrishna.
Two complaints were received from Olpad and Mota Varachha region in Surat. The Congress had complained about some persons displaying banners near the polling stations there, the CEO said.
Two complaints were also received from Ahmedabad's Bodakdev region where banners were displayed on some roadside buildings, which were later removed following EC directions.
Complaints were also received from Bhavnagar, Patan and Rajkot.
"There are 4,800 sensitive booths out of the total 51,851 polling stations, and 96 per cent booths have been facilitated with webcasting," said Murlikrishna.IANS