Going by the early tentative figures released, Gujarat is set to do a repeat 2014 with an over 60 per cent voter turnout as all the 26 constituencies went for polling on Tuesday as part of the phase three of Lok Sabha elections
As per the provisional turnout figures available till 6 pm, the overall turnout stood at nearly 62.36 per cent - a tad lower than 63.31 per cent reported in 2014, when the ruling BJP swept all 26 seats.
In a state that has mostly seen a sub-50 per cent turnout during general elections, the higher count this year is being claimed as favourable by both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress.
BJP claims the 2014 Modi wave has continued in Gujarat, which wants to yet again see a Gujarati Prime Minister helm the affairs. "This proves that Gujarat has extended full support to its Prime Minister and we will again win all 26 seats," said a senior BJP leader.
On the other hand, opposition leader in the state assembly and Gujarat Congress candidate from Amreli Paresh Dhanani said that the high turnout proved the anti-incumbency mood that his party had been gauging and looking to capitalise in the state. "The farmers, jobless youths, tribals and other sections of the society have spoken up and voted against the establishment," said Dhanani.
However, districts in the largely agrarian and rural Kutch-Saurashtra region saw a lower turnout than the 2014 polls this time. As per early figures, districts of Amreli, Surendranagar, Porbandar and Kutch saw voter turnout of 54.59 per cent, 54.66 per cent, 56.70 per cent and 56.76 per cent, respectively. Apparently, these districts, along with few others have been witnessing farm distress coupled with the Patidar (Patel) community agitation.
Tribal districts in Central and South Gujarat, which saw both BJP and Congress campaign hard, registered some of the highest voter turnouts. Among these, Bardoli reported 70.2 per cent, Valsad 74 per cent, Bharuch 69.5 per cent and Chhota Udepur 67.06 per cent.
What accentuates the importance of tribal areas is the fact that on Tuesday, some pockets in Dangs district reported zero turnout with several villages boycotting the polls over lack of basic amenities.
On Tuesday, BJP heavyweights including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah and stalwarts L K Advani and Arun Jaitley cast their votes in Ahmedabad. Governor of Madhya Pradesh Anandiben Patel, Governor of Karnataka Vajubhai Vala and Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel too cast their votes in the state on Tuesday.
After casting his vote, Modi said that India's democracy had set an example before the world through the poll process. "On one hand IED (improvised explosive device) is the weapon of terrorists, while a Voter ID (Election card) is the weapon of democracy. The voter ID is much more powerful than IED," said Modi.