Gujarat election battle comes to an end, verdict out on Monday

The second and final phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections on Thursday saw 68.70 per cent ballotting across 14 districts of the northern and central regions of the state, to pick 93 lawmakers.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2017 10:28 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
Gujarat election,Gujarat election results,Gujarat voting
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shows his ink-marked finger after casting his vote outside a polling station during the last phase of Gujarat assembly election in Ahmedabad.(Reuters)

Gujarat recorded an average 68.7% turnout in the second phase of voting for 93 seats in the state’s central and northern parts on Thursday. With this, the overall polling in the two-phase election – expected to set the tone for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls – is around 68 per cent, the Election Commission announced.

In 2012, the voter turnout in the second and last phase of polling for 95 seats was 71.85 per cent and 70.75% overall for all the 182 seats.

While the average phase II voter turnout was less than the last assembly election, it was still higher than the turn out in 2007 and 2002, when the voting percentage was recorded as 59.77% and 61.54 %.

In the regions that went to polls on Thursday, the BJP had won 52, Congress 39 and NCP and independent one each.

Tribal district Dahod recorded the lowest turnout of 60 % and border Sabarkantha, which has a significant other backward classes (OBCs) population, recorded the highest turnout of 77%.

This last phase sealed the fate of 851 candidates including Deputy CM Nitin Patel(Mehsana), OBC leader Alpesh Thakor(Radhanpur), Congress supported independent Jignesh Mevani(Vadnagar).

The first phase of voting on December 9 had recorded 66.75% turnout in 89 constituencies spread across Saurashtra-Kutch and south Gujarat. Phase I, too saw a 5 % dip in overall voter turn out. Results of Gujarat as well as of Himachal Pradesh that voted on November 9 will be declared on December 18.

The polling day started with the controversy over Prime Minister Narendra Modi turning his exit after polling into a brief road-show. The Congress filed a complaint with the election commission, alleging that the PM had violated the model code of conduct by holding a roadshow even as polling was underway. The complaint is being examined by the poll panel.

Senior BJP leaders including its national president Amit Shah, finance minister Arun Jaitley and former deputy prime minister L K Advani also cast their votes.

The EC officials said the voting was more or less peaceful, barring a few incidents reported from Visnagar, Savli in Vadodara and Banaskantha. As many as 10 people were injured in Hasanpur in Visnagar constituency in Mehsana after a clash between two groups. The police resorted to lathi charge to control the situation.

EC officials said three complains of EVMs linked to Bluetooth devices were received, but all proved to be wrong.

“Two complaints were made by the Congress about Bluetooth connections found in polling booths in Ahmedabad, and one was made by a lady in Vadodara. After examination, they were all found to be incorrect and the lady gave in writing that she is satisfied that the EVM was not connected to any device,” an EC official said.

Poll panel officials said no complaints were received about VVPAT machines recording incorrect votes. “During polling hours 120 ballot units, 102 control units and 409 VVPATS (paper trail machines) were replaced for malfunctioning not tampering,” the official said.

North Gujarat, with 32 seats, was the centre for both Patidar agitation for OBC status and protest by the OBC communities to counter Patidars demand. However, leaders of both the movement, Hardik Patel(Patidars) and Alpesh Thakor(OBC) have joined hands with the Congress. Also, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani contested as an independent from Vadgam, against whom the Congress had not fielded any candidate.

It was the region, where the Congress in 2012 remained ahead with 17 seats, where as the BJP was limited to 15.

Urban pockets of Ahmedabad and Vadodara cities in central Gujarat are strongholds of the BJP. Here, the BJP had won 37 and the Congress 23 seats.

The BJP has fielded candidates on all 93 seats while Congress, which has a seat-sharing arrangement with Bhartiya Tribal Party of Chhotu Vasava, has 90 nominees in the fray.

Both the BJP and Congress made claims for victory after polling ended at 5pm.

“We thank people of Gujarat for electing development instead of politics of caste and community by the Congress’’, said Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, adding, “The BJP is winning seat more than what all exit polls have predicted’’.

Congress senior leader Arjun Modhwadia said: “The people of Gujarat has rejected 22-year-old BJP rule, which was nothing but a model of hollow promises. The voters have chosen the Congress’’.

First Published: Dec 14, 2017 23:01 IST