Gujarat votes: Little over 35% turnout recorded till 2 pm

Salman Nizami Rahul Gandhi

Salman Nizami with Rahul Gandhi

After a campaign that often turned vituperative, around 2.12 crore voters would be exercising their franchise in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state to choose between the ruling BJP and the Congress.

The BJP on Friday released its "Resolution Letter" with promises for the Gujarat voters, a day before polling in the assembly elections' first phase after opposition leaders especially Patidar leader Hardik Patel questioning the delay.

Voting for the first phase of the crucial Gujarat assembly polls began today on 89 seats of Saurashtra and South Gujarat regions.

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Prominent candidates for today's battle include Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who is contesting from Rajkot (West), and Congress' Shaktisinh Gohil (Mandvi) and Paresh Dhanani (Amreli).

The state election is being viewed as an acid test for both Narendra Modi and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.

Taking the moral high ground, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, addressing a rally at Banaskantha, said, "The Congress respects the chair of Prime Minister".

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Polling would be held in Saurashtra, that accounts for 48 seats, Kutch with six seats and South Gujarat, the remaining 35 seats.

"People should come out in large numbers to vote". The PM went in overdrive to highlight how Congress leaders have repeatedly abused him. 57 of them are women candidates.

PM Modi took to Twitter and said, "Phase 1 of Gujarat polls begin. Let us not talk about that abuse, as people of Gujarat will look into it and give a reply and they (Congress) will know the result on December 18".

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The vote, a second round of which will be held on December 14, is seen as crucial for Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of national elections scheduled for 2019.

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