Gandhinagar, Dec 14 : The second and final phase of the bitterly fought Gujarat Assembly polls ended on Thursday evening amid a war of words between the ruling BJP and an aggressive Congress.
Balloting closed at 5 p.m. with an estimated 60 per cent of the 2.22 crore electorate exercising their franchise in 93 constituencies across 14 districts of northern and central Gujarat.
Nearly 50 per cent polling was seen by 3 p.m., the Election Commission said. One official said the overall polling could even cross 70 per cent.
Thursday’s fight for Gujarat, ruled by the BJP for 22 long years, ended more or less peacefully. Voters, however, complained about malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) at some places.
The sluggish voter turnout in the first few hours due to the winter chill gave way to visible enthusiasm as the day progressed. Long queues of men and women were seen outside polling booths almost everywhere.
But with the stakes high in Gujarat, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress were locked in a war of words after Prime Minister Narendra Modi voted in Ahmedabad and then went around the area, flashing his finger with the voter mark.
A furious Congress complained to the Election Commission that Modi held a roadshow in Ranip area.
Afer casting his vote, Modi stood on the steps of his vehicle and waved to the cheering crowds. His 97-year-old mother Hiraba, who lives in Gandhinagar with Modi’s younger brother Pankaj Modi, also voted in Gandhinagar North.
The Congress accused the Election Commission of ignoring the BJP’s and Modi’s violations of the model code of conduct. Congress activists staged a demonstration outside the office of the poll panel in New Delhi.
BJP veteran L.K. Advani, the Lok Sabha member from Gandhinagar, cast his vote at a booth in Hindi Vidyalaya in Shahpur area of the old city. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley voted at a booth in Chimanbhai Institute at Vejalpur area.
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel too voted on Thursday. Patidar leader Hardik Patel, who has virtually thrown his lot with the Congress, exercised his franchise in Viramgam.
A skirmish took place between two groups in Hasanpur village in Visnagar at Mehsana. The police used batons to disperse the mob. Ten persons have hospitalised.
The districts were elections were held on Thursday included Banaskantha, Patan, Sabarkantha, Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Aravalli, Mahisagar, Panchmahal, Dahod, Kheda, Anand, Vadodara and Chhota Udepur.
A total of 25,575 polling booths were set up in 14,523 places.
There were several complaints regarding malfunctioning EVMs in and around Vadodara city, halting polling temporarily.
A clash also erupted in Dhanera town in Banaskantha district, police said.
The first round of polling to elect a 182-member Gujarat Assembly took place on December 9. The votes will be counted on Monday.