Gujarat Assembly Elections phase 1: As it happened


Modi predicts historic victory for BJP as phase 1 records 68% turnout; Election Commission rejects claims of EVM tampering.

Eighty nine constituencies in Gujarat went to polls on December 9 in the first phase of the high-stakes Assembly elections covering Saurashtra and South Gujarat. The voter turnout was around 68% amid claims of malfunctioning EVMs in several areas including Rajkot, Rajpipla, Bhavnagar, Palitana, Porbandar.
A total of 977 candidates were in the fray, including Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, BJP State president Jitu Vaghani and the Congress leaders Shaktisinh Gohil, Arjun Modhvadia and Paresh Dhanani.
The second phase polling is on December 14 and counting, along with that of Himachal Pradesh, will be held on December 18.

Latest updates

9 pm:

BJP headed towards historic victory, says Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanks the people of Gujarat for turning out in record numbers.
“Thank you Gujarat! Gratitude to my sisters and brothers of Gujarat for voting in record numbers today. I am seeing that BJP is headed towards a historic victory, powered by the affection and support of every Gujarati,” he tweets. Earlier in the day, he urged the youth to turn out in large numbers to cast their vote.
7.40 pm:

BJP heading to victory, says Jaitley

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says the BJP was satisfied with the manner in which the first phase of polling in the Gujarat Assembly elections went, and claims his party was headed towards a landslide victory. “We express more than satisfaction over the manner in which the election has been conducted today... Our estimate, with the kind of support we are getting, is that the party is heading towards a landslide victory and we will serve the people of Gujarat once again for next five years.” 
Jaitley also dismisses as “a baseless statement” the Congress allegation that the EVMs were connected to bluetooth at some places. “This is a baseless statement... When such statements are given, I cannot help but say that these are alibis in preparation for a possible defeat.”
6.45 pm: Sixty eight per cent polling was recorded in the first phase of Gujarat polls, Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Unmesh Sinha said in New Delhi, reports PTI. There were still long queues lined up to vote at most polling stations, news agency IANS quotes Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer B.B. Swain as saying.

Source: CEO, Gujarat  

5:20 pm: In the  Rann of Kutch region, where the famous  Rann Utsav is on, locals went to vote out early before heading for work. Suleiman Ismail Hindorja, a 80-year-old villager, was among the first few voters. "I am a loyal voter of the Congress irrespective of who forms the government,"says the 80-year old villager showing his inked finger. 

At Dhordo village, one of the last villages on the Pakistan border, where there are 626 voters, more than 300 have cast their votes by 3pm.
4:30 pm: There were reports of technical glitches in electronic voting machines (EVMs) in Surat and some other centres, but the polling process resumed after the machines were replaced, Election Commission officials said. A 115-year-old woman from Upleta town of Rajkot, Aajiben Chandravadia, also voted today. - PTI
3:30 pm: The Election Commission says 35.52 per cent votes were polled till 2 pm.
2:00 pm: Election Commission has denied Mr. Modhvadia's claims that EVMs are connecting via bluetooth. Sources in EC say any mobile device can be named as 'ECO', so that it shows up so on bluetooth/wifi search in other mobile phones.
A team of engineers visited a Porbandar booth following complaints and found no substance in the complaints, they added.
1.45 p.m.: During an election rally for the second phase of Assembly elections,Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday stepped up attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking why there is no mention of development in his speeches during the Gujarat election campaign. Mr. Gandhi said he did not get an answer to even one of the 10 questions he had asked Mr. Modi on Gujarat’s report card, despite the BJP being in power in the state for 22 years, and wondered if governance meant mere speeches.
1.35 p.m.: The first phase of polling in the Gujarat Assembly elections witnessed about 30 per cent of voting till 12 noon.
1.00 p.m: PM Narendra Modi, during his campaign trail in the State, took a dig at the Congress: "Congress promised reservation to Muslims in various states. Have they been able to fulfil the promise? Congress has promised reservation in Gujarat to a community. Are they going to snatch it away from SC/STs or OBCs or is it just like quota promise to Muslims?"
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will address rallies in North Gujarat today.
12.15 p.m: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also expressed concern over the malfunctioning EVMs. He tweeted: "I’ve been extremely sceptical of EVM related conspiracy theories but I’m being to question my unwavering faith in the machines & their infallibility. I hope the Election Commission can step up & address the questions that are being asked of it about the trustworthiness of voting machines."

Suleman Ismail Hingorja 80, after casting his vote in White Rann of Kutch   | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

11.15 a.m: A poll official has said that in the first two hours of polling across 19 districts of Kutch, Saurashtra and the southern region of the State, an overall 11% polling was registered. In the first hour it was around 8%. Read more
11.00 a.m: Ex union minister and Congress candidate Tushar Chaudhary after casting his vote.
10.40 a.m.: In Porbandar, Congress candidate Arjun Modhvadia claimed that the EVMs are getting connected with Bluetooth. He has submitted screenshots of mobile Bluetooth getting connected with EVMs to the Election Commission.
10.30 a.m: Congress leader Ahmed Patel casts his vote and expressed confidence of a victory for the Congress. Mr. Patel was elected to the Rajya Sabha in August this year, defeating BJP's Balwantsinh Rajput in a tight finish
10.00 a.m: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will address four rallies in North Gujarat today. He also appealed to the people to vote and participate in democratic process. He congratulated the youth for their participation in the elections.
Someone familiar dropped in at one of Rajkot's polling booths.
9.40 a.m: Around 8% voting in the first hour this morning. In this short span of time, there have been over 50 complaints of EVM glitches.  Rajkot alone has reported 33 glitches. 
9.25 a.m: We're learning that the polling hasn't been exactly smooth in a few places, with reports of glitches in the EVMs and VVPATs in Rajkot, Rajpipla, Bhavnagar, Palitana, Porbandar. In Porbandar, there were EVM glitches in 8 polling booths, and in Amreli five polling booths.

Congress leader and ex-MP Virji Thummar after casting his vote   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

9.20 a.m: The temples in the State were abuzz with high-profile visits this morning from the candidates themselves. CM Rupani visited a temple, his rival Congress candidate Indranil Rajyaguru conducted a puja in his office. BJP’s Harsha Sanghavi visited a Jain Temple in Surat.
9.15 a.m: Congress's Arjun Modhvadia casts his vote in Porbandar.
8.50 a.m: Gujarat BJP President Jitu Vaghani casts his vote in Bhavnagar. Congress leader and ex MP Virji Thummar casts his ballot in Lathi constituency in Amreli district.
8.40 a.m: Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani has cast his vote in Rajkot. He also appealed to the people exercise their franchise and vote for development of Gujarat.
Of the 89 seats, the ruling BJP holds 67 and the Congress 16. One seat each is held by the NCP and JD-U while independents hold the remaining two.
Seeking to allay apprehensions regarding the integrity of the electronic voting machines, the Election Commission said it had put in place “an elaborate framework of system, security protocols and procedural checks” to prevent any “possible misuse” of the voting machines during the polling

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