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Record voter turnout in Gujarat is normal; Modi may get major share in urban areas
The first phase of the Gujarat assembly elections got over peacefully yesterday. The one thing that surprised everyone be it Election Commission, political parties or media was the record turnout of 68% voters who cast their votes.

AS PER the commission's figures 68% voters, the highest ever, came out to reach polling booths to exercise their voting rights in the two regions namely South Gujarat and Saurashtra, which have 87 seats. Before 2012 the highest polling recorded earlier was 63.70 per in 1967 Gujarat elections. In 2007, the voter turnout was 59.77 per cent. Even in 2002, 61.55 per cent voting was recorded, when Gujarat was riding on a pro-BJP wave.

Political analyst Avadhesh Kumar termed the record turnout of the voters in the first phase in line with the national trend of greater participation in the elections.

“The record turnout of voters in Gujarat is no exception. It is normal and in line with the trend we saw all over the country. It has been noted that during the various assemble elections, which happened in last four years the voters' turnout had increased be it Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu or Manipur. Only exception was Bihar,” Avadhesh Kumar told this citizen journalist .

The record turnout in Gujarat's first phase of elections is, however, still lower than the turnout in the last month's Himachal Pradesh assembly elections where around 73.92% voters decided the fate of candidates in 68 constituencies.

With the rise in voters' registration to a level of 5% in various districts, the Chief Electrol Officer was also expecting an additional 5-7% rise in voter turnout. The current figures show, voting in Gujarat has surpassed the expectations.

Avadhesh Kumar said that increase in voting percentage does not signal towards anti-incumbency wave in the state. “Seven years back the increase in voting percentages was perceived as threat to the ruling party by the poll analysts as they had a mindset that new voters will not participate in the elections to save the ruling party. However, the perception has changed now. Take the case of Punjab, where voting percentage had increased, however, the ruling party remained in the power,” said Avadhesh Kumar.

According to election commission, Tapi district in south Gujarat voted the highest with 76% of voter turnout while Jamnagar district recorded the least voter turnout at 63%. Among other districts, Bharuch recorded 67.5%, Narmada 71.8%, Surat 64%, Navsari 72%, Dang 66%, Bhavanagar 68%, Rajkot 68.8%, Porbandar 63.3%, Amreli 65.6%, Valsad 67% and Junagarh 67%.

Kumar added that Modi may be benefited by the increase in voting percentage in urban areas. However, he warned of a triangular fight in Saurashtra with the entry of Keshu Bhai Patel. “The increased voting percentage in urban areas may go into the favor of Narendra Modi. However, in rural areas especially in Saurashtra, it seems that Keshu Bhai Patel led Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) will succeed in getting a good share of the votes. In Saurashtra the fight has become triangular between BJP, GPP and Congress," said Kumar.

The figures say that more than 1.23 crore out of 1.81 crore registered voters cast their votes in the first phase and sealed the fate of some of the prominent leaders such as former CM Keshubhai Patel, finance minister Vaju Vala, leader of opposition Shaktisinh Gohil, Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia, Gujarat BJP president RC Faldu in EVMs.

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