The first phase of the intensely fought Gujarat polls saw a record 68 per cent turnout on Thursday in an election bereft of any wave, giving way to speculation that the high voting could dent the ruling BJP’s prospects.
As against an average 55 to 60 per cent polling in the elections, there was good enthusiasm to vote this time around in the vital Saurashtra region, where the former BJP patriarch, Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party has been giving the Narendra Modi dispensation a run for its money.
While the BJP put a brave face on it, saying the enthusiasm was for Mr. Modi’s development works, the Congress and the GPP claimed that people came out in droves to defeat the BJP.
As many as 846 candidates, including Mr. Patel, Leader of the Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil, State Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia, and a host of Ministers are in the fray in the first round in which 87 constituencies went to the polls.
Over 1.8 crore voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in 48 constituencies across seven districts of the Saurashtra region, 35 in seven districts in South Gujarat and four rural seats in Ahmedabad district.
According to Chief Electoral Officer Anita Karwal, tribal-dominated Tapi district in south Gujarat recorded the highest turnout of 76 per cent, while Jamnagar district recorded the lowest at 63 per cent.
Among other districts, Bharuch recorded 67.5 per cent turnout, Narmada 71.8, Surat 64, Navsari 72, Dangs 66, Bhavnagar 68, Rajkot 68.8, Porbandar 63.3, Amreli 65.6, Valsad and Junagadh 67 per cent.