High tide in backwaters


Rural Saurashtra sees a surge in voter turnout.

The record 70.75 per cent polling registered in the first phase of assembly elections on Thursday saw voters from differenet castes and communities in rural areas of Saurashtra exercising their franchise in large numbers.

They outnumbered voters in urban centres even as the turnout in cities was higher than the past elections.

The turnout in 1985, when Madhavsinh Solanki came to power riding a sympathy wave following the death of Indira Gandhi with record 149 seats, was 48.82 per cent while in 1995, when the BJP came to power for the first time, it was 64.39 per cent. Even in 2002 when the polls were held in the backdrop of riots and a Hindutva wave, the turnout was 57.47 per cent.

Most of the Patel-dominated constituencies like Gondal, Morbi, Tankara, Rajkot South, Jetpur, Visavadar, Keshod, Lathi and Jamnagar Rural recorded voting between 66 and 76 per cent.

Heavyweights like GPP president Keshubhai Patel (Visavadar), GPP secretary Gordhan Zadaphia (Gondal), agriculture minister Dilip Sanghani and BJP president Ranchoddas Faldu (Jamnagar Rural) are in fray here.

Constituencies dominated by Kolis also saw unprecedented polling. Jasdan registered 80.65 per cent turnout, followed by Botal (78.50%), Bhavnagar Rural (75.5%), Chotila (71.2%) and Talalja (65.82%).

Even constituencies like like Wankaner and Dhoraji having a significant number of voters from minority communities registered a turnout of 73.86 per cent and 76.22 per cent respectively.

Fate of leaders like Rajkot MP Kunvarji Bavalia, Congress Legislative Party leader Shaktisinh Gohil and fisheries minister Purshottam Solanki have been sealed in EVMs in these constituencies. Turnout in cites was relatively less with 64.18 per cent electors exercising their franchise in Rajkot West, 60.71 per cent in Junagadh, 65.82 per cent in Jamnagar North and 65.8 per cent in Jamnagar South.

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