India's Gujarat Sees Slow Voter Turnout in 1st Phase of State Assembly Polls
© AP Photo / Ajit SolankiA woman shows her inked finger after casting her vote during the first phase of Gujarat state legislature elections in Limbdi, India, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022.
© AP Photo / Ajit Solanki
The dates for the two-phase Gujarat legislative assembly polls were announced on November 3. After today's first phase, the second phase will be held on December 5.
The first phase of the Gujarat state assembly elections commenced at a slow pace on Thursday morning with the voter turnout till 12 noon (IST) reported to be 24 percent.
The voting, which began at 8 a.m., will last until 5 p.m. for this phase.
As many as 788 candidates are in the fray for 89 seats in 19 districts in this phase of the polls.
Generally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress are in competition in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state. However this time, it's a triangular contest as the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is vying to make its presence felt in the state assembly.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi on Thursday called on all Gujaratis to come out in large numbers to cast their vote.
© Photo : Twitter/@narendramodiPrime Minister Narendra Modi Urges Voters to Turnout in Record Numbers during First Phase of Polling for Gujarat State Assembly Polls
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Urges Voters to Turnout in Record Numbers during First Phase of Polling for Gujarat State Assembly Polls
© Photo : Twitter/@narendramodi
Federal Home Minister Amit Shah, a key politician in Narendra Modi's BJP-led administration, also urged people to exercise their right to vote for continued development in the state.
In a tweet in Hindi, he said: “In the last two decades, Gujarat has become synonymous with development and peace, which every Indian is proud of. But this was possible because of the strong government elected by the people of Gujarat. I appeal to the voters of the first phase to vote with unprecedented enthusiasm and numbers to continue this journey of development.”
While both the BJP and Congress are vying for 89 seats, the AAP only has candidates contesting 88 seats, as its candidate from Surat East constituency withdrew from the race, leaving the party with one less seat to contest.
Among the prominent candidates contesting in this phase are AAP’s state chief candidate Isudan Gadhvi (Khambhalia seat in Devbhumi), AAP state unit president Gopal Italia (from Katargam in Surat), Rivaba Jadeja, and BJP lawmakers Harsh Sanghavi and Purnesh Modi, Lalit Kagathara, Lalit Vasoya, Rutvik Makwana.
26 November 2022, 13:29 GMT
All the parties have been campaigning frantically in the state ever since the elections were announced.
BJP’s campaign was led by Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Shah, BJP president J.P. Nadda, state chiefs of BJP-ruled states including Uttar Pradesh state chief Yogi Adityanath , and a number of other ministers and state leaders.
For AAP, Delhi State Chief Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab state chief Bhagwant Mann were the most frequent campaigners.
The Congress’ campaign saw its newly elected party chief Mallikarjun Kharge, Rajasthan state chief Ashok Gehlot, among others campaigning for its candidates.
As of now, the BJP has been in power in the state for the last 27 years. However, the party's fate has ebbed since 2002 as it dropped from 137 to 99 in the last state assembly polls whereas Congress won 77 seats in the previous elections.
The results of the elections are scheduled to be announced on December 8.