Gujarat polls: 21 pc turnout till 11am

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 17, 2012 10:15 hrs

Around 21 percent of total voters cast their ballots till 11 am as voting for the second and last phase of polls in Gujarat is underway on Monday to elect a new assembly in the state, officials said.

Nearly seven percent voting was reported in the first hour of balloting itself, an official said.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi voted himself in a polling booth with large number of his supporters cheering.

Modi voted at a school at Ranip in Ahmedabad which falls in the Sabarmati constituency and as he walked out of the polling station a large crowd almost made it impossible for his car to move.

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.

In this phase more than 1.98 crore voters are eligible to decide the fate of 820 candidates, including chief minister Narendra Modi, vying for the 95 seats.

Following a record 71 percent voter turnout in the first phase, officials are 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 is seeking his third term as chief minister.

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.

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

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

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

Modi has 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.

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