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Polling in Gujarat brisk, peaceful
Press Trust of India, PTI
Ahmedabad, December 12, 2002
First Published: 11:14 IST(12/12/2002)
Last Updated: 16:03 IST(12/12/2002)

An estimated 30 per cent electorate cast their votes till noon on Thursday in the first post-Godhra elections in Gujarat held amidst unprecedented security to elect a new Assembly.
 
"Voting has so far been proceeding smoothly and there have been no reports of any untoward incident," sources in the election office here said.

State chief electoral officer Gurcharan Singh said that 30 per cent electorate had cast their vote by mid-day. Counting of votes will be taken up on Sunday.

Police used mild force in Rambagh area of Maninagar constituency here, from where Chief Minister Narendra Modi is contesting, to disperse a large group of people protesting against their exclusion from the electoral rolls. They shouted slogans against the Election Commission.

According to reports reaching here, polling which began on a dull note in most of the 181 constituencies, picked up as the day passed by.

Reports from Godhra, Mehsana, Maninagar, Naroda Patiya spoke of moderate to heavy polling with long queues seen at polling stations. In minority-dominated areas of Kalupur constituency polling nearly 25 per cent voters cast their votes when reports last came in.

In the tribal belt of Vadodra, Panchmahals and Dohad districts of central Gujarat, heavy polling was reported.

Commotion was witnessed at Jetpur in Rajkot following reports of detection of a crude bomb at Bosamia college where the electronic voting machines would be stored, but police said it was a hoax.

Among the early voters was caretaker Chief minister, Narendra Modi, who cast his vote in the Sarkhej constituency in suburban Ahmedabad.

Modi, who himself is contesting from the high-profile Maninagar constituency, flashed a victory sign after casting his vote and said the people of the state would give a "befitting reply" to those, who for the last nine months, have launched a "malicious" campaign to defame Gujarat.

Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and his wife Kamla cast their votes in Shahpur constituency in Ahmedabad city from where Gujarat Minister Kaushik Patel is the candidate.

Nearly 40,000 paramilitary personnel along with 70,000 policemen have been deployed across the border state to ensure peaceful polling, which is also being witnessed by 17 diplomats from the US, Britain, European Union, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden.

The state's borders have been sealed and coast guard is maintaining a strict vigil along the western coastline of the state.
 
About 37,000 polling booths have been set up across the state to enable an estimated 3.28 crore voters to exercise their franchise.
 
Election to the Surat city (west) Assembly seat has been countermanded following the death of BJP candidate and Gujarat Law Minister Hemant Chapatwala.
 
Over 1000 candidates whose fate will be decided today include Chief Minister Narendra Modi,  senior Congress leader Amarsinh Chaudhary,  BJP veteran Suresh Mehta and two former MPs Soma Ganda and Shivlal Vakeria.
 
As many as 14,707 polling booths in 22 out 25 districts have been declared  "sensitive"  by the Election Commission.


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