Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017: Voting was held for 93 of the state's 182 constituencies.
Ahmedabad: 68.7 per cent people voted in the second and final phase of the Gujarat assembly polls today, the Election Commission has said. This is almost neck and neck with the 68 per cent voter turnout in the first phase on Saturday last. The voter turnout in the 2012 assembly election was 71.3 per cent. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's voted in Ahmedabad and his 100-metre walk back to his car, holding up his inked finger as thousands of people cheered, quickly snowballed into a controversy, with the Congress alleging that the PM had held a "road show" while the state voted, violating election rules.
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The Congress has also attacked the Election Commission, calling it a "puppet of the BJP government," alleging that it is not taking note of multiple violations by the BJP, though it has swiftly acted on a BJP complaint on an interview of its president elect Rahul Gandhi aired by a Gujarati TV channel.
The BJP has called it a case of "sour grapes because the Congress is losing" criticising the opposition party for its attack on the poll panel. Top leaders of both parties met the election commission in Delhi, while hundreds of Congress workers protested outside the panel's Delhi headquarters.
The Prime Minister was the face of the BJP's campaign in his home state in what is seen as a contest between him and Rahul Gandhi, who is set to be Congress president. North and central Gujarat voted in 93 of the state's 182 constituencies today.
This phase is vital for the BJP with many urban centres, which have traditionally backed the party. PM Modi had urged the state to vote in large numbers this morning.
The BJP's big challenge in this round is to retain Ahmedabad and Vadodara, Gujarat's two mega cities that had overwhelmingly backed the party in the last election. The BJP had won 26 of the 31 seats from these two districts alone. Overall, of the 93 constituencies voting today, the BJP had won 52 last time, and the Congress had won 39.
The BJP, which has been in power in Gujarat for the last 22 years, expects to make up in the tribal belt for any loss in other places because of an anti-incumbency sentiment. As the BJP's lead campaigner, PM Modi extensively focused on the tribal belts to complement the party's conscious effort to deepen its roots within the tribal community, including encouraging local leaders.
In the first phase in 89 constituencies or which polling was held on Saturday last, the turnout was low in rural areas and those dominated by the Patels or Paatidars, loyal to the BJP for years, but upset this time at not being included among castes which get the benefit of affirmative action.
The Congress has attempted to harness the anger of key groups against the ruling party and has tied up with Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, backward leader Alpesh Thakore and the face of the Patel agitation for reservation, Hardik Patel.
PM Modi has pitched the Gujarat battle as one between "vikas (development)" and "vanshwaad (dynasty)," in an attack on Rahul Gandhi, who is set to take over from his mother Sonia Gandhi as Congress president on Saturday, two days before votes are counted. Votes will be counted on Monday, December 18.
Among prominent voters today was BJP chief Amit Shah who, along with son Jay Shah, was among early voters, as was PM Modi's mother Heeraben, 95, who voted in Gandhinagar. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley voted in Ahmedabad.