Gandhi Nagar: A voter turnout of 63.14 per cent was recorded in the first phase of Gujarat Assembly elections covering 89 seats across 19 districts of Saurashtra-Kutch and southern regions of the state, the Election Commission said on Friday.
In the 2017 Assembly election, the voter turnout in the first phase covering the same 89 constituencies stood at 66.75 per cent.
Polling for the first phase, in which the electoral fate of 788 candidates was locked in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), was held on Thursday.
Tribal-dominated Narmada district recorded the highest turnout of 78.24 per cent, followed by Tapi, another such district with 76.91 per cent. Navsari recorded 71.06 per cent voting, the EC said.
Botad district recorded the lowest voter turnout of 57.58 per cent, it said in its final tally. Amreli followed closely with 57.59 per cent turnout.
Ten districts recorded more than 60 per cent voting, while six others saw below 60 per cent voting.
Surat recorded 62.27 per cent voting and Rajkot 60.45 per cent.
Polling was held across 19 districts between 8 am and 5 pm on Thursday, and a special drive was run by the office of the state CHief Electoral Officer (CEO) P Bharathi to encourage voters to exercise their franchise in large numbers.
In 2017, the final voter turnout for both the phases of elections was 68.41 per cent.
The second phase of elections with 833 candidates will be held on December 5 and votes will be counted on December 8.
In the 2017 election, out of these 89 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won 48, Congress 40, while one seat was bagged by an independent candidate.
The BJP, which has ruled the state for 27 years, is striving to remain at the helm for the seventh term in a row. If it succeeds, it will equal the record of the Left Front government which won West Bengal elections for seven consecutive terms till 2011.
At the same time, the party faces competition not just from its traditional rival Congress, but also the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has positioned itself as the main contender for the party and is contesting on all but one seat.
Apart from the BJP, Congress and AAP, 36 other political outfits, including the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) also fielded candidates in various seats.
Three villages boycotted the election, including Dhrafa in Jamnagar, Samot in Narmada and Kesar in Bharuch district.
During the voting, 89 ballot units, 82 control units and 238 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) were replaced in 19 districts, the Chief Election Officer’s (CEO) office said in a release on Thursday.
A total 26,269 ballot units, 25,430 control units and 25,430 VVPATs were operational.
A total of 104 complaints were received during the process of voting, including six regarding malfunctioning of EVMs, two regarding bogus voting, 30 regarding law and order issue, 36 regarding violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), and 30 on issues like slow voting, bogus voting and power cuts, it said in a release.
At Dhrafa village of Jamnagar district, the voters were apparently upset over the polling officers not making separate arrangements for men and women voters.
In Kesar village of Bharuch district, the villagers boycotted the election alleging lack of basic facilities, it said.
Samot village in Dediapada constituency of Narmada district with a total 1,625 voters boycotted the election over the issue of regularisation of a farm land in the village.