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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

62% turnout in Gujarat, RSS takes it to 70% in Vadodara

Mahesh Langa and Smruti Koppikar, Hindustan Times  Ahmedabad/Vadodara, April 30, 2014
First Published: 12:07 IST(30/4/2014) | Last Updated: 00:26 IST(1/5/2014)

Gujarat on Wednesday registered an average 62% voting across 26 parliamentary seats, an increase of 14.1% over 2009. Vadodara, the state’s cultural capital, recorded the highest of 70% (49% in 2009) with considerable help from organisations affiliated to the RSS.

Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is contesting Vadodara in addition to the Varanasi seat. His Congress rival is old warhorse and backroom strategist Madhusudhan Mistri.

“Average polling was around 62 % and voting was peaceful with no untoward incident reported from anywhere,” chief electoral officer Anita Karwal said. Much of the voting was recorded in the morning hours as the mercury touched the 43 degree Celsius mark.

The BJP machinery had swung into action to turn the Vadodara campaign into “100% votes” after Modi decided to contest the seat.

Under the watch of Modi’s cabinet colleague Saurabh Patel, city president Bharat Dangar drew upon the party’s cadre as well as supportive trade-industry organisations to take the campaign to a micro-level not seen before.

The BJP set up helpline numbers to assist voters but as the voting progressed in the largely urban constituency — two of its seven assembly segments have a rural electorate — RSS affiliates made their presence felt. An estimated 3,000 activists helped mobilise voters and manage booths, party sources said.

“April 30 was meant to be an event for us. All our organisations helped out, our volunteers were at the booths while others went around inspiring people who don’t vote to come out and do so,” said Bhargav Bhatt, RSS prant adhikari.

The despondency in the Congress camp was apparent in Akota assembly segment where party workers abandoned the booths by afternoon. But Narendra Ravat, Vadodara unit president, said, “The 70% turnout doesn’t automatically mean all voted for the BJP.”

BJP veteran LK Advani, who voted with his family in Ahmedabad credited political awareness among voters for the turnout.

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