Ahmedabad: A record voter turnout of 70.2 percent was witnessed in the second and final phase of Gujarat elections that would decide whether Chief Minister Narendra Modi would do a hat-trick for BJP or Congress returns to power in the state after a gap of 22 years.
"The total polling percentage in Gujarat was 70.2 percent. This is higher than 64.39 percent recorded in 1995," Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath told reporters here after the second phase of polling ended in Gujarat.
Counting of votes will be taken up on Thursday with the massive turnout being a subject of intense speculation on which party would benefit.
According to the CEC, the first phase polling December 13 was 70.75 percent. Narmada district recorded the highest voting percentage at 82.17 percent.
The polling was marred by a firing incident involving BJP MLA from Sahera in Panchmahal district Jetha Bharwad in which four people were injured. Bharwad has been detained and investigation is on.
Polling was held in 95 constituences--17 in Ahmedabad city, 40 in five districts -Vadodara, Dahod, Panchmahal, Kheda and Anand-of central Gujarat, 32 in Patan, Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Gandhinagar and Banaskantha--of north Gujarat and six in Kutch district. The first phase saw voting in 87 assembly segments.
BJP has a strength of 117 in the outgoing 182-member House. Congress is hoping to return to power in the state after a gap of 22 years.
Heading for a hat-trick: Modi
Amidst tight security, Narendra Modi exercised his franchise at a school in Ranip. Huge crowd was gathered outside Nishan High School where Modi cast his vote. Clad in saffron kurta and surrounded by thousands of supporters, the charismatic Gujarat CM made a two-fingered `V-sign` after coming out of the polling station. Modi`s act irked Congress, which complained to the Election Commission of India and blamed the Gujarat CM of violating code of conduct. The Congress slammed Modi for going to vote "in a procession".
“I want to thank the electorate and I am sure they will lead the BJP to a hat-trick win,” said Modi after voting. He further expected the voter turnout in the second phase to exceed than that in the first phase.
Modi also told reporters, "It`s a very peaceful election. It is such a election that has been contested by people of Gujarat themselves...An election where youth and women folk have taken up the responsibility on their shoulders...It will be historic one because it has been contested on the issue of good governance and development plank."
Modi tweeted: "Cast my vote in Ahmedabad. Looking at overwhelming support of people of Guj, am confident we are heading for a hat-trick."
Modi, who is contesting from Maninagar in Ahmedabad city, and Congress` Shankar Singh Vaghela, a former Chief Minister, were among the 822 candidates whose fate were sealed in the ballots today.
Modi, a BJP stalwart, is locked in a direct contest with the Congress candidate Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt. A new entrant, Shweta is testing political waters for the first time.
Elections in the second phase were held in 95 of the 182 constituencies.