As the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were sealed on Thursday after the close of voting hours at 5 PM for the second phase of Gujarat polls, all eyes were set for the verdict on December 18.

The second phase of polling - held on Thursday between 8am - 5pm, saw higher turnout than the first phase - held on December 9.

As per the preliminary estimates, turnout for the 93 seats in 14 districts stood at around 68.70 per cent, higher than 66.75 per cent reported in the first phase. Barring a few minor incidents, the polling remained largely peaceful, the EC stated.

In 2012, overall polling for North Gujarat region was 75 per cent and 72 per cent for Central Gujarat. The districts in the second phase of 2012 polls were different, hence comparable figures weren't available.

The final figures, however, will be released by the Election Commission on Friday.

Commenting on the two-phase elections, chief minister Vijay Rupani expressed confidence of forming the next government with over 150 seats in the 182-seat assembly. "The voting in two phases that we have seen will shape up the BJP's tally to 150+. The BJP has received overwhelming support from the voters and we thank all those who have voted. The BJP is going to form the government in the state for the next five years and move ahead in the direction of development," Rupani said addressing media in Ahmedabad.

On the other hand, Congress candidate from Porbandar and former president of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC), Arjun Modhwadia stated that the BJP misused its power to suppress the opponents and the media. "The voting that has done will end the BJP's rule in the State."

EVM complaints

For the second phase, the Election Commission (EC) received complaints of the EVMs malfunctioning and also allegedly being connected with mobile devices through bluetooth, which were found to be false. However, BB Swain, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) - Gujarat stated that as compared to phase 1, less than 50 per cent cases of EVM replacements in phase 2 were reported.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi cast his vote at Ranip area amid large crowd cheering for him. Like a commoner, Modi stood in a queue before exercising his voting right. Later has he moved in his SUV after casting his vote showing the people his inked finger, Congress allegedly termed it a roadshow to campaign for the BJP and raised a complaint with the EC for poll code violation.

Swain stated that Ahmedabad District Election Officer was asked to inquire into the complaint.

Those heavyweights cast their votes included BJP veteran and former deputy prime minister LK Advani at Khanpur, BJP chief Amit Shah in Naranpura, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel and former chief minister Anandiben Patel also exercised their voting rights besides Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The second phase had a total 2.22 crore voters with 851 candidates including 61 females in the fray. The BJP had its candidates on all the seats, while Congress fielded candidates on 91 seats, followed by 75 from Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) among others.

The election seen as a “prestige battle” for Prime Minister Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi, is considered crucial for the national politics ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

In 2012, the BJP had won 52 seats out of the total 93 going to the polls tomorrow. The Congress currently has 39 seats and one each with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and an independent. The voter turnout in 2012 for North Gujarat was 75 per cent, while Central Gujarat had 72 per cent.

The exit polls by several survey agencies have hinted at a possible BJP government in the State with comfortable lead.

In 2012, the BJP secured 117 seats, the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) supported the party with its two seats. The Congress, on the other hand had secured 59 seats in the 2012 polls. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and JD (U) had secured two and one seats respectively besides one independent.