A staggering 70 per cent polling was reported across 95 Assembly constituencies that went to polls on Monday in the second of the two-phase State elections in the central and north Gujarat regions, which are believed to be crucial for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The polling was largely peaceful barring one incident in which sitting BJP MLA from Shehra constituency in Panchmahals district Jethabhai Bharwad opened eight rounds of fire from his security guard’s rifle, injuring four people. One of them was critical and rushed to hospital in Vadodara city.
Bharwad, who was earlier a police constable, opened fire after an altercation with supporters of his Congress rival Takhatsinh Solanki. Congress workers later pelted stones. The MLA was arrested.
People from all walks of life and age groups virtually swarmed the 23,000-plus polling stations, continuing the trend of heavy turnout in the first round on December 13. The desert district of Kutch went to the hustings to elect six legislators.
Monday’s polling will decide the fate of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, contesting from Maninagar in Ahmedabad city, and a dozen Ministers and several heavyweights.
Former Chief Minister and Congress campaign committee chairman Shankersinh Vaghela was in the fray from Kheda district’s Kapadwanj constituency that registered record polling of over 80 per cent.
The aggressive and unprecedented voting — around 70 per cent — in the cities like Ahmedabad and Vadodara may well be a reason to cheer for the BJP, which generally gets a chunk of its votes from urban areas.