In the first phase of the crucial Gujarat Assembly polls, 40.47 percent voter turnout was recorded till 2 pm on Saturday during the polling on 89 seats of Saurashtra and south Gujarat regions, News18 reported.
#ElectionsWithNews18 | 40.47% voter turnout till 2 PM
— News18 (@CNNnews18) December 9, 2017
Chief Electoral Officer for Gujarat BB Swain said that though voting would end at 5 pm, those standing in queue outside polling booths before the process ends, would be given a chance to cast their votes.
Though there were reports of technical glitches in EVMs in Surat and some other centres, the polling process resumed after the machines were replaced, officials of the Election Commission said.
Speaking about it, Swain said, "We have received complaints of faulty EVMs from some places and all such machines have been replaced with the spare ones kept at the polling stations."
After the polling process began at 8 am, people could be seen stepping out of their houses despite the cold weather and queueing up to cast votes at polling stations.
Even some brides and grooms, clad in the marriage attires, came to polling booths along with their relatives to exercise their franchise before the wedding function. Such voters were seen in Bharuch, Bhabvnagar, Gondal and Surat.
A 115-year-old woman from Upleta town of Rajkot, Aajiben Chandravadia, also voted on Saturday.
While a majority of the candidates of major parties cast their votes by noon, people are still making a beeline at polling booths in large numbers.
Several important leaders and candidates, including Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, his opponent on Rajkot-West seat Indranil Rajyaguru, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani and Congress MLA of Amreli seat Paresh Dhanani, among others, cast their votes. Cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara also got his finger inked and cast his vote in Rajkot.
A total of 89 seats out of 182 – spanning the Saurashtra and south Gujarat regions – are up for grabs in the first phase with 977 candidates in the fray.
Prominent candidates for Saturday's battle include Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who is contesting from Rajkot (West), Congress' Shaktisinh Gohil (Mandvi) and Paresh Dhanani (Amreli).
The election is being viewed as a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of soon-to-be Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. The election is a crucial battleground for the Congress and the BJP before 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The poll campaign shaped up as a duel between Modi and Gandhi, and often turned personal.
The Congress, in political wilderness in Gujarat for nearly 22 years, is desperate to break the jinx. It has raised issues such as the BJP's "hollow development model", besides demonetisation and GST.
Gandhi emerged as the Congress' pivot to take on the might of the prime minister on his home turf.
While Modi addressed about 15 rallies, Gandhi spent more than seven days in Saurashtra and south Gujarat, addressing a number of meetings.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Dec 09, 2017 18:28 PM