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Gujarat: 70 pc voting in second phase

Posted on Dec 17, 09:46PM | IBNS

Nearly 70 percent voters exercised their franchise as polling ended for the second phase of the assembly elections in politically crucial Gujarat on Thursday, deciding the fates of 820 candidates, including chief minister Narendra Modi.

However, the second and final phase of polling witnessed some violence and a firing incident in which four people were hurt.

Amid tight security, polling started on Monday morning for the second phase of elections for 95 seats in Gujarat to elect a new 182-member assembly.

Modi, who voted in a polling booth in Ahmedabad on Monday cheered by his supporters, said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will score a hattrick in the state.

"In this election the people of Gujarat will make a hattrick," said Modi emerging out of the polling booth.

"The people will choose BJP once again," he said after voting at a school at Ranip in Ahmedabad which falls in the Sabarmati constituency.

As he walked out of the polling station a large crowd and huge media contingent almost made it impossible for his car to move.

Clad in saffron, a beaming Modi thanked the voters for large turnouts and said BJP would return once again.

He tweeted: "Cast my vote in Ahmedabad.Looking at overwhelming support of people of Guj (Gujarat), am confident we are heading for a hat-trick."

Pertinently, Modi is seeking his third term as chief minister.

Focus was also on Congress candidate Shweta Bhatt, the wife of anti-Modi IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who also cast her vote as she takes on Narendra Modi himself from Maninagar constituency.

Shweta Bhatt said she was fighting for 'truth'.

Senior BJP leader LK Advani cast his vote at a polling booth in Shahpur area in Ahmedabad.

The Congress heavyweight contestants in this phase are former chief minister Shankarsinh Vaghela, his son Mahendra Vaghela, and former state Congress president Siddharth Patel besides the dramatic nomination of Shweta Bhatt, the wife of suspended police officer Sanjiv Bhatt, against Modi.

While voting in the first phase was peaceful, the second phase witnessed violence as four people were injured in a firing incident in Tarsang village.

According to reports, BJP candidate and sitting MLA from Sahera in Panchmahal district Jetha Bharwad's bodyguard opened fire when some stones were thrown at the leader.

The police detained Bharwad after the incident.

He was detained at a time when the BJP MLA was undergoing treatment for head injuries at a hospital in Godhra town, reports said.

Congress candidate Takhatsingh Solanki hit out at Bharwad and said it was 'pre-planned' by the BJP leader in order to perform bogus voting.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had fielded candidates on all 95 seats while Congress was contesting in 92 and GPP (Gujarat Parivartan Party) in 84 seats.

At least 32 other political parties and 284 independent candidates were also seeking votes on Monday.

Voting took place at 23,318 polling stations under the observation of 7,256 micro-observers, the Election Commission officials said.

Following a record 71 percent voter turnout in the first phase on Dec 13, officials were expecting similar numbers in 40 constituencies in five districts of central Gujarat, 32 seats in five districts of north Gujarat, 17 seats of Ahmedabad and on six seats in Kutch district.

Modi had campaigned aggressively for the elections, seeking the approval of voters once again while Congress poster boy Rahul Gandhi also carried out extensive campaigning.

Gujarat voted peacefully for the first phase of the assembly elections on Dec 13.

The counting is on Dec 20.