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'Peaceful polling in Guj is a fitting reply to its critics'

Arun Jaitley said that people in Gujarat have given a "fitting reply" to critics, who had unleashed a campaign to malign its image.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Ahmedabad
PUBLISHED ON APR 20, 2004 09:48 PM IST

Describing the polling for 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat as "absolutely peaceful", Union Law Minister and national BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley today said that people here have given a "fitting reply" to critics of the state, who had unleashed a campaign to malign its image.

"Elections today have passed off absolutely peaceful in Gujarat. No voter can complain of being pressurised. Through peaceful voting, people have given a fitting reply to those critics who had unleashed a campaign (to malign its image)", Jaitley told reporters here after the end of polling.

Jaitley exuded confidence that BJP will "improve" upon its tally of 21 of the total 26 Lok Sabha seats but hastened to add that he did not want to go into any numbers.

"BJP's privacy and the seat-wise margin compared to Congress will be retained", Jaitley added.

When reminded that BJP leaders here had been confident of bagging all 26 seats earlier, Jaitley said that it was his nature not to make any arithmetic calculation but only makes modest claims.

On the "low" voter turn out, Jaitley said the polling per centage has always been less in Gujarat whenever Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections are held separately.

"In 1991, 1996 and 1999 when there were only parliamentary polls, voter turn out has been 44.06, 35.92 and 47.3 per cent respectively. When the two electiosn are clubbed, it (turnout) has crossed 55 per cent", he said, quoting official figures.

He also did not rule out the impact of scorching summer heat on the voter turn out but added that it would not have any bearing on the results.

"Even if there is low voter turn out, BJP has a strong cadre which can extract the voter-base that supports us", the spokesman added.

Asked whether President A P J Abdul Kalam's appeal to voters had any impact on voter turnout, Jaitley said that if such appeals come people must heed to them but the turnout depends more on the given situation.

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