Gujarat election results today, will Narendra Modi do a hat-trick?
Edited by Abhinav Bhatt | Updated: December 20, 2012 08:57 IST
Widely expected to return as chief minister for a third term, Mr Modi tweeted, quoting Swami Vivekananda, "No need of looking behind, FORWARD! We want infinite energy, infinite courage, infinite patience..."
Predictions about Gujarat polls have been unanimous. They only differ over the victory margin for Narendra Modi. Some opinion polls have even projected that Mr Modi could win more seats than the 117 he won in 2007.
Gujarat recorded an all-time high voter turnout of 70%. Mr Modi and his party the BJP say that's 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 Prime Minister 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, is expected to dent the chief minister's hold in Saurashtra, dominated by the rich and powerful Patel community to which the former chief minister belongs.
But opinion polls predict that Keshubhai Patel's Gujarat Parivartan Party may be limited in these elections to a fringe player.
Mr Modi addressed over 100 rallies in this campaign. 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 heavyweight candidates 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.
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