Heat wave slows down voting in Gujarat (Second Lead)

April 30th, 2009 - 4:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Narendra Modi Ahmedabad, April 30 (IANS) A strong heat wave in many parts of Gujarat Thursday afternoon slowed down polling as about 25 percent voters exercised their franchise in the state’s 26 constituencies, an election official said.
Nearly 20 percent turnout was recorded in the first three hours but as the mercury rose, less people queued up to vote and the percentage went up marginally by five percent by 2 p.m., the official said here.

He said voting was expected to pick up during the last hour, between 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. when it would be less hot.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi cast his ballot at 9 a.m. at a booth in Ranip, under the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial aspirant L.K. Advani is contesting from Gandhinagar.

Modi, who was accompanied by a large number of BJP supporters, told reporters after voting that “people of Gujarat will ensure that the BJP wins the Lok Sabha poll with a thumping majority in the country”.

“We will ensure that senior BJP leader L.K. Advani wins with a big majority of votes in Gujarat,” the chief minister added.

Gujarat is witnessing largely a direct contest between the state’s ruling BJP and the Congress. In 2004, the BJP had won 14 seats while the Congress had secured 12.

Polling has been largely peaceful in the state amid unprecedented security arrangements, but workers of the BJP and Congress clashed at a polling booth in a village and that quickly spread to nearby Godhra.

A train-burning tragedy at Godhra, about 140 km from here, had sparked statewide communal violence in 2002.

The clash took place around 10 a.m. after a group of Congress workers accused the BJP workers of prodding voters near the polling station in Shera village to cast votes for their candidate.

A police officer said workers of both parties were injured. No arrest has been reported so far.

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