In a repeat of the record turnout in the first phase, the second phase of Gujarat Assembly elections on Monday saw 70 per cent polling in the toughest electoral test for Chief Minister Narendra Modi who is seeking a third term.
Counting of votes will be taken up on Thursday with the massive turnout being a subject of intense speculation on which party would benefit.
An Election Commission official in Ahmedabad said an estimated 70 per cent cast their ballots in the second and final phase.
A record 70.75 per cent of the eligible voters cast their ballots in the first of the two—phase elections last Thursday with the average polling being a little over 70 per cent. The highest polling recorded in the previous Assembly elections was 63.70 per cent in 1967.
The polling was marred by a firing incident involving BJP MLA from Sahera in Panchmahal district Jetha Bharwad in which four people were injured. Mr Bharwad has been detained and investigation is on.
Polling was held in 95 constituencies—17 in Ahmedabad city, 40 in five districts —Vadodara, Dahod, Panchmahal, Kheda and Anand-of central Gujarat, 32 in Patan, Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Gandhinagar and Banaskantha—of north Gujarat and six in Kutch district. The first phase saw voting in 87 Assembly segments.
BJP has a strength of 117 in the outgoing 182-member House. Congress is hoping to return to power in the State after a gap of 22 years.
Mr Modi, who is contesting from Maninagar in Ahmedabad city, and Congress’ Shankar Singh Vaghela, a former Chief Minister, were among the 822 candidates whose fate were sealed in the ballots today.
Mr Modi, a BJP stalwart, is locked in a direct contest with the Congress candidate Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt. A new entrant, Shweta is testing political waters for the first time.