Edited by Ashish Mukherjee | Updated: December 20, 2012 06:44 IST
The Gujarat Chief Minister and his party, the BJP, read the record voter turnout as a sign that they will win a big mandate for the third time in a row, bucking conventional wisdom that people turn out to vote in greater numbers when they want a change. The BJP maintains that a rise in voter turnout in Gujarat has always brought the party gains.
A victory in 2012 will not only give Mr Modi a historic third successive term as chief minister, it will also set him up for a bigger political role at the national level. Many in the BJP see him as a potential candidate for PM in the 2014 general elections.
Mr Modi has had to contend with more than the Congress in these elections. 82-year-old rebel Keshubhai Patel, who launched his own party the GPP, kept Mr Modi on his toes forcing him to campaign extra hard in central Gujarat to offset potential losses in the Saurashtra region, dominated by the rich and powerful Patel community to which the former chief minister belongs. But opinion polls have predicted that Keshubhai Patel's Gujarat Parivartan Party is unlikely be the game-changer that it has been touted to be.
Three opinion polls have forecast a sweep for Mr Modi and the BJP.
Mr Modi addressed over a 100 rallies. From the traditional rath to 3D technology, he went all out to reach the voters.
The elections saw a blistering campaign between the BJP and the Congress, marked by personal attacks and counterattacks between Mr Modi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul.
While Rahul dubbed Gujarat's development as an oversell by Mr Modi, the chief minister shrugged off the Gandhi scion as a novice. He even said Sonia Gandhi had "lost her mental balance".
Among the key leaders in the fray are Shankarsinh Vaghela of the Congress, former state home minister Amit Shah, an accused in two fake encounter cases, GPP chief Keshubhai Patel, Assembly Speaker Ganpat Vasava, Gujarat BJP chief RC Faldu, state Congress president Arjun Modhwadia, Leader of the Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil and several ministers.
The votes will be counted at 33 centres across Gujarat, where over 44,000 electronic voting machines remain locked under heavy security. Trends for all the seats are expected within the first few hours and all results by 4 pm.
In the 2007 elections, the BJP won 117 seats and the Congress 59. In 2002, the ruling party had fared better (127 seats) while the Congress won 51.
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