New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday thanked the people of Gujarat for turning out in record numbers for voting in the first phase of the state polls.
“Thank you Gujarat. Gratitude to my sisters and brothers of Gujarat for voting in record numbers today. I am seeing that BJP is headed towards a historic victory, powered by the affection and support of every Gujarati,” he tweeted.
Eighty-nine seats went to polls on Saturday in phase one of the election. The second phase is on December 14, when voting will be held in the remaining 93 seats.
Sixty-eight percent polling was recorded in the first phase, senior Deputy Election Commissioner Unmesh Sinha said.
Prominent candidates in first phase battle include Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who is contesting from Rajkot (West), Congress’ Shaktisinh Gohil (Mandvi) and Paresh Dhanani (Amreli).
The election is crucial for the Congress and the BJP before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and is seen as a prestige battle for PM Modi, who was the CM of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014, and a litmus test for the leadership of soon-to-be Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
Meanwhile, questioning Congress’ assurance of reservation to Patidar community in Gujarat, the PM Modi on Saturday said it will either have to “snatch” the share of SCs, STs and OBCs or is making a “false promise” like it did on Muslim quota issue in several states.
“Either they (Congress) have to snatch it from others or they are spreading lies,” PM Modi said in his first major direct attack on Patidar quota issue.
In his earlier campaign speeches, PM Modi had urged the people not to be taken in by false promises.
Addressing a rally in Lunawada town of Mahisagar district, he said, “I want to ask the Congress party… You gave a lollipop to the Muslims in all the states of the country that you will give reservations to that community. I want to ask my Muslim friends, have they given you reservations anywhere in the country? Has this not proved to be a false promise.”
“Now, they have made a similar promise to another community here (in Gujarat). From where will they provide reservations. With they snatch it from the OBC, adivasi (tribal) or SCs?” PM Modi asked.
(With PTI inputs)