Record 67% turnout marks phase-I

Thursday

Saurashtra, south gujarat Fate of heavyweights like Keshubhai, Modhwadia and Zadaphia sealed; 87 seats up for grabs.

The first phase of the Assembly elections on Thursday saw the highest-ever voter turnout in Gujarat, with 67.66% of the 1.81 crore voters casting their votes at 21,261 polling stations in 87 constituencies across Saurashtra, south Gujarat and rural Ahmedabad.

The highest turnouts were recorded in the three tribal districts of Tapi (76%), Navsari (72%) and Narmada (71.8%) saw .

The first phase covered 48 seats in seven districts of Saurashtra, 35 seats in five districts of south Gujarat and four seats in Ahmedabad district. A total of 846 candidates are in fray. While BJP had fielded candidates in all 87 seats, Congress fought 84 seats and Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) 83.

The highest polling recorded earlier was 63.70 per cent in 1967 elections. In 2007, the voter turnout was 59.77 per cent in the two-phase polls.

Even in 2002, when Gujarat was riding on the pro-BJP wave, 61.55 per cent voting was recorded.

The polling today was by and large peaceful, barring a few incidents like a BJP functionary being attacked in Junagadh and 200-odd first-time voters in rural Ahmedabad complaining they had not been issued voter IDs. Also, an elderly voter in Mandal died soon after casting his vote.

With today's voting, the fate of 846 candidates, including of fledgling Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) president Keshubhai Patel, who is a former Chief Minister and Modi's bete noire, state BJP chief R C Faldu and state Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia, was sealed.

Heavy polling was seen since morning, especially in rural Saurashtra that faced water crisis due to poor monsoon this year for the first time since Narendra Modi came to power.

Compared to rural Saurashtra, polling was leaner in urban seats like Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar.

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