The stage is set in Gujarat. December 18 is the big day in the state with political parties battling it out for the ultimate power in Gujarat. The results of the Assembly elections tomorrow will decide who takes the throne in the state. The counting of votes is considered a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state and a litmus test for new Congress president Rahul Gandhi. While the BJP is seeking a sixth straight term in office, the Congress is aiming to stage a comeback in power after being in the opposition for over two decades. The results are expected to have a bearing on the 2019 parliamentary polls also as Modi had come to power in 2014, based on Gujarat ‘model of development’. Congress president Rahul Gandhi also led an impressive election campaign in Gujarat in the bid to bring back his party to power in the state after 22 years. Meanwhile, all exit polls have predicted the BJP to easily get another term. As the state prepares for the counting of votes and then a new government, here are the 10 key points you should know ahead of the mandate of the year.
1. The much-awaited results of the keenly fought elections will be announced tomorrow when the counting of votes will be held at 37 centres across the state’s 33 districts for 182 Assembly seats, amidst tight security. Counting of votes in Gujarat will begin at 8 am.
2. For a clear majority, a party needs 92 seats to form the government in Gujarat. An aggregate of nine exit polls conducted in state predicts the BJP to get 116 seats. The BJP had won 115 seats in 2012 Assembly polls. Congress is expected to win around 65 seats, slightly more than its 2012 outcome of 61.
3. PM Narendra Modi led the campaign for the BJP. He conducted various rallies in the run up to the Gujarat election results. During the campaign, Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah trained guns on the Congress on issues like Ram Temple, alleged Pakistani interference in the Gujarat polls and (suspended Congress leader) Mani Shankar Aiyar’s remarks.
4. Newly elected Congress President Rahul Gandhi was the pivot of the grand old party’s electioneering. Gandhi persistently attacked Modi and the BJP for “not talking about the future of Gujarat” and skipping key issues being faced by the people of the state.
5. The Congress also stitched about a broad social coalition with prominent Patidar, OBC, and Dalit leaders – Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani – in its bid to unseat the BJP in power for over two decades.
6.Rajkot West is the most high profile seat of the Gujarat Assembly polls as Chief Minister Vijay Rupani is facing a tough challenge from Indranil Rajyaguru of the Congress. This seat is also significant as PM Narendra Modi contested from Rajkot West as Gujarat chief minister in 2002. The second high-profile constituency in Gujarat is Mehsana from where Gujarat Deputy CM Nitin Patel is contesting.
7. An average 68.41 per cent polling was recorded in the two-phase Assembly elections in Gujarat. In the first phase of polls held on December 9 for 89 seats in Saurasthra, Kutch and South Gujarat, 66.75 per cent voting was recorded. According to the final figures released by the Election Commission, the voter turnout in the second phase of balloting on December 14, for 93 seats of North and Central Gujarat, stood at 69.99 per cent. The turnout in 2012 was 71.3 per cent.
8. In terms of numbers, of the total 4.35 crore registered voters, 2.97 crore exercised their right to franchise in the elections held on December 9 and 14. According to the EC data, the tribal-dominated Narmada district witnessed the highest voter turnout of 79.15 per cent, while Devbhumi-Dwarka of Saurashtra region recorded the lowest at 59.39 per cent.
9. The districts which recorded a high turnout are — Tapi (78.56 per cent), Banaskantha (75.15) and Sabarkantha (74.97). The districts which saw a low turnout are — Amreli (61.29), Bhavnagar (61.56) and Porbandar (61.86). Out of the total 33 districts, 15 recorded over 70 per cent polling, while 17 others clocked between 60 per cent and 70 per cent. Only Devbhumi Dwarka district registered polling below 60 per cent.
10. The Election Commission had set up 182 all-women polling stations, one in each assembly constituency. The height of the voting compartment has also been increased to ensure secrecy.