- Prime Minister Narendra Modi votes in Ahmedabad in second and final round of polls in Gujarat, media reports
The second and final phase of voting for the Gujarat Assembly elections began at 8 am on Monday in 93 constituencies across 14 districts in the central and north regions of the state.
A total of 833 candidates from 61 political parties, including Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are contesting the polls in these Assembly segments spread across Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Gandhinagar and other districts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will cast his vote at a polling station set up in a school in Ranip area of Ahmedabad city, while Union Home Minister Amit Shah will exercise his franchise at a municipal centre in Naranpura area here.
On the eve of polling, PM Modi took blessings of his mother Hiraba by visiting her residence in the state capital Gandhinagar.
The BJP is seeking a seventh straight term in Gujarat where the new poll entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has added a third dimension to the traditional bipolar contest between the saffron party and the Congress.
The first phase of voting for 89 seats in Saurashtra, Kutch and south Gujarat regions was held on December 1, when an average voter turnout of 63.31 per cent was recorded.
The counting of votes for the total 182 Assembly seats will be taken up on December 8.
The 833 candidates in the fray for the second phase of polls include 285 independents.
A total of 2.51 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise for the second phase of elections, including 1.29 crore men and 1.22 crore women. There are 5.96 lakh voters in the age group of 18 to 19 years, according to the Election Commission.
The poll body has set up 14,975 polling stations for which 1.13 lakh election staffers have been deployed.
The BJP and the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP are contesting in all 93 seats. The Congress is contesting 90 seats and its alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in two segments.
Among other parties, the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) has fielded 12 candidates and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 44.
Some of the important constituencies in the second phase of polls include Ghatlodia (in Ahmedabad district) of CM Bhupendra Patel, Viramgam seat (also in Ahmedabad) from where Patidar leader Hardik Patel is fighting on the BJP's ticket, and Gandhinagar South from where Alpesh Thakor is fighting as the saffron party candidate.
Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani is contesting as the Congress candidate from Vadgam seat in Banaskantha district, and Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly Sukhram Rathva is the nominee from Jetpur in Chhota Udepur district.
BJP rebel Madhu Shrivastav is contesting as an independent candidate from Vaghodia seat in Vadodara district.
PM Modi conducted a whirlwind campaign for the BJP candidates on December 1 and 2, including two back-to-back road shows in Ahmedabad.
During the last leg of the campaign, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held rallies in Dholka, Mahudha and Khambhat towns, while Union minister Smriti Irani held roadshows in Modasa and Siddhpur towns of north Gujarat.
AAP leader and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann also held road shows for the second phase of the elections.
In the 2017 state Assembly polls, the BJP won 51 of the 93 seats where polling is underway, Congress 39, while three seats went to Independent candidates.
In central Gujarat, the BJP had bagged 37 seats, outnumbering the Congress which got 22. But in north Gujarat, the Congress had won 17 constituencies while the saffron party got 14.