Ahmedabad: A voter turnout of 58.80 per cent was recorded till 5 pm on Monday across 93 seats in the second phase of the Assembly elections in Gujarat, where polling was peaceful barring a few untoward incidents, the Elections Commission (EC) said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Sukhram Rathva of the Congress were prominent among those who cast their votes in the second and final phase of elections to the 182-member Assembly.
The state administration received complaints of malfunctioning of EVMs (electronic voting machines) and VVPATs (voter verifiable paper audit trails) from many places due to which voting at those booths was impacted.
The provisional voter turnout in the second phase, covering 93 seats across 14 districts of north and central regions of Gujarat, till 5 pm was 58.80 per cent, the EC said, adding the figure is expected to increase as many people were still standing in queues at many booths.
The provisional figure released by the EC for the second phase at 5 pm is expected to rise further as collecting data from some polling stations takes time and the number does not include postal ballots.
The final voter turnout in the second phase of the 2017 Assembly election on these 93 seats stood at 69.99 per cent. The turnout in the first phase of the 2022 elections across 89 Assembly seats, where voting took place on December 1, was 63.31 per cent. Gujarat had registered 68.41 per cent voting in the Assembly polls five years ago.
On Monday, voting took place across 14 districts of north and central regions of Gujarat. District-wise, Sabarkantha recorded the highest voting at 65.84 per cent. Ahmedabad district recorded the lowest turnout at 53.57 per cent till 5 pm. In Vadodara, it was 58 per cent, the EC said.
The electoral fate of CM Bhupendra Patel and 832 other candidates, including 285 independents, will be decided in the second phase. Prime Minister Modi voted at a polling station at Nishan High School in Ahmedabad city's Ranip area in the morning. His centenarian mother Hiraba Modi cast her ballot at a polling station in Gandhinagar district.
Union Minister Shah exercised his franchise at a municipal centre in Naranpura locality of Ahmedabad city. AAP leader Gadhvi voted at a booth in Ghuma locality here. He is the AAP candidate from the Khambhalia seat in Devbhumi Dwarka district where polling was held in the first phase on December 1.
Apart from CM Bhupendra Patel, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor, and Congress leader Jignesh Mevani were among those in the fray in the second phase of polls.
Voting began at 8 am across 14,975 polling stations. The poll body said 41 ballot units, 40 control units and 109 voter-verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs) were replaced due to malfunctioning during the initial hours of voting.
Congress candidates from Kalol in Panchmahal district Prabhatsinh Chauhan alleged he was attacked by unidentified persons who, he alleged, also damaged his vehicle. State Congress president Jagdish Thakor accused the Election Commission of "sitting in the lap of BJP."
He said despite the Congress complaining of slow voting in Assembly seats won by it 2017, the poll authorities did not resolve the matter. "We have complained of slow voting on Congress seats (won in 2017). We have lodged a complaint but there is no resolution...It seems as if the Election Commission is sitting in the lap of the BJP," he said after casting his vote at Naroda locality in Ahmedabad city.
The BJP and the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP contested in all the 93 seats. The Congress contested 90 seats and its alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has fielded candidates on two Assembly segments. Among other parties, the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) has fielded 12 candidates and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 44.
In the 2017 Assembly polls, the ruling BJP had won 51 of these seats, Congress 39, while three seats went to independent candidates. In central Gujarat, the BJP had bagged 37 seats, outnumbering the Congress which got 22. But in north Gujarat, the Congress had bagged 17 seats, while the saffron party got 14.
The counting of votes polled in all the 182 Assembly seats will be taken up on December 8.