Polling for the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly polls started at 8 a.m. on Thursday as 788 candidates fight for the 89 seats in 19 districts. The voting will continue till 5 p.m. Long queues were visible in the rural as well as urban areas.
The voters of Saurashtra and Kutch will be voting on 54 seats, and those in South Gujarat will vote for 35 MLAs.
Bigwigs whose fate will be sealed in the EVM in the first phase include education minister Jitu Vaghani, finance minister Kanu Desai, agriculture minister Raghavji Patel, minister of state for home Harsh Sanghvi, former civil supplies minister Jayesh Radadiya.
From the Congress, former leader of opposition Paresh Dhanani, former GPCC president Arjun Modhvadia, party’s three working presidents — Lalit Kagathra, Ambrish Der, and Rutvik Makwana — are contesting the polls.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called upon the people in Gujarat to vote enthusiastically. He tweeted: “Today is the first phase of the Gujarat elections. I call upon all those voting today, particularly first-time voters to exercise their franchise in record numbers.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also made an appeal to the voters: “In the last two decades, Gujarat has become synonymous with development and peace, which every Indian is proud of. But this was possible because of the strong government elected by the people of Gujarat.
“I appeal to the voters of the first phase to vote with unprecedented enthusiasm and numbers to continue this development journey.”