AHMEDABAD: An average 50.51 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 3 pm on Monday in the second and final phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections covering 93 seats across 14 districts of north and central regions, the Election Commission said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Aam Aadmi Party's chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Sukhram Rathva were among those who cast votes.
Voting began at 8 am across 14,975 polling stations and will continue till 5 pm.
The electoral fate of CM Bhupendra Patel and 832 other candidates, including 285 Independents, will be decided in the second phase.
Till 1 pm, Sabarkantha district recorded the highest voter turnout at 57.23 per cent, followed by Banaskantha with 55.52 per cent.
In Ahmedabad district, the voter turnout till 3 pm stood at 44.67 per cent. In Vadodara, it was 49.69 per cent, as per an update shared by the Election Commission.
The poll body said in the first three hours after voting began, 41 ballot units, 40 control units and 109 voter-verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs) were replaced due to malfunctioning.
PM Modi exercised his democratic right at a polling station at Nishan High School in Ahmedabad city's Ranip area in the morning.
His centenarian mother Hiraba cast her vote at a polling station in Gandhinagar district.
Union minister Shah cast his vote at a municipal centre in Naranpura locality in Ahmedabad city.
The prime minister said the state's people listen to everybody, but it is their nature to accept what is true.
He also congratulated the Election Commission for conducting the polls in a "spectacular manner" and raising the prestige of India's democracy in the whole world.
He said the voters of Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi celebrated "the festival of democracy" with great enthusiasm
Isudan Gadhvi voted at a booth in Ghuma locality, also in Ahmedabad. He is the AAP candidate from Khambhalia seat in Devbhumi Dwarka district where polling was held in the first phase on December 1.
Apart from CM Bhupendra Patel, BJP leaders Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor, and Congress leader Jignesh Mevani are among those in the fray in the second phase of polls.
The BJP and the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP are contesting in all 93 seats. The Congress is contesting 90 seats and its alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has fielded two candidates.
Among other parties, the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) has fielded 12 candidates and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 44.
The 93 seats where voting is underway are spread across 14 districts including Ahmedabad, Vadodara, and Gandhinagar.
A total of 2.51 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise for the second phase of elections, including 1.29 crore men and 1.22 crore women. There are 5.96 lakh voters in the age group of 18 to 19 years, according to the Election Commission.
In the 2017 Assembly polls, the ruling BJP won 51 of the 93 seats, Congress 39, while three seats went to independent candidates.
In central Gujarat, the BJP had bagged 37 seats, outnumbering the Congress which got 22. But in north Gujarat, the Congress had won 17 seats while the saffron party got 14.
Of the total 182 Assembly seats in Gujarat, polling for 89 segments was held on December 1 when an average voter turnout of 63.31 per cent was recorded.
The counting of votes in all the seats will be taken up on December 8.
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