Ahmedabad: Voting for the first phase of the crucial Gujarat assembly polls began today on 89 seats of Saurashtra and South Gujarat regions.
After a campaign that often turned vituperative, around 2.12 crore voters would be exercising their franchise in Modi’s home state to choose between the ruling BJP and the Congress.
A total of 977 candidates are in fray for the first phase polls.
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 election is viewed as a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of soon-to-be Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
The campaign shaped up as a duel between Modi and Gandhi, and often turned personal.
The poll narrative kept changing with issues such as the Ayodhya title suit, Gandhi’s imminent elevation as Congress president and his visits to temples being raised by BJP leaders.
Gandhi emerged as the Congress’ pivot to take on the might of the prime minister on his home turf.
While Modi addressed about 15 rallies, Gandhi spent more than seven days in Saurashtra and south Gujarat, addressing a number of meetings.