Voter turnout at noon: 25 per cent in S'rashtra, 20% in South Guj

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Ahmedabad, Dec 11 (UNI) An estimated 25 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Saurashtra and 20 per cent in South Gujarat till noon today in the first phase elections to Gujarat.

Balloting is on in 58 constituencies in Saurashtra-Kutch and 29 in South Gujarat.

While the state Election office has refused to give any provisional figures on voter turnout till evening, reports from across the constituencies put the figures at 25 per cent in Saurashtra and 20 per cent in South Gujarat.

Polling has been peaceful so far, an EC spokesman said. He also said the process, which started on a dull note in the first two hours, later picked up pace.

It got delayed at three booths in Rajkot rural constituency as the Electronic Voting Machines developed some snags.

Long queues of electors were seen standing at the booths to cast their votes. Several senior citizens were also seen waiting for their turn to exercise their franchise in Saurashtra.

Polling, however, continued to be slow in Kutch, where foggy and chilly conditions were prevailing. It is expected to pick up pace as the day progresses.

State Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala, who is contesting from Rajkot II constituency, was one of the first to cast his vote.

Though no untoward incidents have taken place, Surat Collector lodged a police complaint against some BJP supporters as well as Kanak Singh Mangrola, a local party leader, for violation of the Model Code of conduct, as his vehicle was found within the limits of a polling booth in Chorasi Assembly consitutency, where Cabinet Minister Narottam Trikamdas Patel is in the fray.

The results of the first phase polling will be a decisive factor for the BJP, which has been facing major dissidence in these regions. Several dissident leaders are in the fray, prominent among them is Dhiru Gajera from Surat.

Former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and Kanshiram Rana who have spearheaded the rebellion against Chief Minister Narendra Modi could impact the outcome in Saurashtra and Surat respectively.

Prominent among those whose political fortunes will be decided today are state Ministers Vajubhai Vala (Rajkot II), Water Resources Minister Narottam Patel (Chorasi), Urban Development Minister I K Jadeja (Dhrangadhra), Leader of Opposition Arjun Modhvadiya (Porbandar), and Minister of Finance for State Saurabh Dalal from Botad (Bhavnagar).

The largest Assembly constituency in terms of voters is Chorasi in Surat with 1.59 million voters and area-wise it is Abdasa in Kutch.

The smallest constituency is Manavadar in Rajkot with a mere 125,902 voters. Porbandar has the highest number of 15 candidates, including Arjun Modhvadia.

UNI

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