Prime Minister Narendra Modi today cast his vote here after waiting in a queue to exercise his right at a polling booth set up at a school in Sabarmati constituency of Ahmedabad district. After casting the vote at the Nishan High School, he showed his inked finger to thousands of supporters who had gathered outside the school in Ranip locality of Sabaramati constituency, amid chants of “Modi Modi”. The prime minister walked a certain distance to greet people standing on both sides of the road outside the polling booth. Later, he stood on the foot-board of his car and waived to the crowd. Earlier in the morning, Modi commissioned the first of the six Scorpene-class submarine Kalvari into the Indian Navy in Mumbai and from there he flew to Gujarat to cast his vote. After an acrimonious campaign, voting for the second and final phase of the Gujarat assembly elections is underway today in 93 seats in North and Central Gujarat. The election is being seen as a “prestige battle” for Prime Minister Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi. The votes will be counted on December 18.
Meanwhile, voter turnout of 11.71 per cent was registered in the first two hours of polling in the second phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections today, Election Commission officials said. There were reports of malfunctioning of electronic voting places (EVMs) and VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) at some places in Aravalli and Panchmahal districts. Voting in the 93 seats of North and Central Gujarat regions was otherwise proceeding peacefully, Election Commission officials said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, state Congress president Bharat Solanki and Patidar leader Hardik Patel were amongst those who voted. Despite the chill, several people could be seen queuing up outside polling booths even before voting began at 8 am. While the prime minister voted around noon at a polling booth in Sabarmati constituency in Ahmedabad district, Shah, Jaitley and state leaders like Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and former chief minister Anandiben Patel voted earlier in the day.
The prime minister’s mother Hiraba, who is in her 90s, cast her vote at a booth in Gandhinagar. BJP veteran L K Advani is expected to vote in the afternoon. Hardik Patel and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, who joined the Congress and is contesting from Radhanpur, voted in Viramgam. State Congress president Bharat Solanki, former party chief Siddarth Patel, senior leader Shaktisinh Gohil and former MP Dinsha Patel also exercised their franchise in the high stakes battle for power in the state. Rebel Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, who floated the Jan Vikalp front, voted at Vasania village in Gandhinagar constituency. Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer B B Swain told reporters that polling was on in more than 25,000 booths across 14 districts. “We are live web-casting from 1,700 booths. Security is properly deployed, and staff reached on time,” he said.
“We have given proper instructions to ensure that EVMs which encounter problems are changed in time so as to avoid any delay that was encountered during the first phase of polling,” Swain said. After an acrimonious campaign, voting for the second and final phase of Gujarat assembly elections is under way today in 93 seats of North and Central Gujarat. Around 2.22 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise today to choose between the two main contenders, the BJP and the Congress. A total of 851 candidates are in the fray for the second phase. The first phase of voting for the 182-member House, held on December 9, covered 89 seats. The election is being seen as a “prestige battle” for Prime Minister Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi. In the 2012 assembly polls, the BJP had won 115 seats while the Congress bagged 61. The votes will be counted on December 18.