A voter turnout of 59.24% was recorded at the end of polling in the first phase of Gujarat Assembly elections on Thursday, PTI reported. The voting process had begun at 8 am in 89 seats.

The Election Commission said that the turnout figure was provisional as it did not include postal ballots, and data from some polling stations had not been received.

The Tapi district registered the highest turnout at 72.32%, while the district of Bhavnagar recorded the lowest figure of 51.34%.

The elections are being held in two phases. Voting for the second phase will take place on December 5. The results will be declared on December 8 along with the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.

In the first phase, 788 candidates, including 70 women, are contesting the polls on 89 of 182 seats of the state Assembly.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is looking to retain its 27-year-long rule in the state, while the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party are looking to wrest control on matters such as inflation and unemployment.

Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said he was expecting record levels of voting in the state, reported The Times of India.

“Preparations are complete, now is the time to call upon the voters to come out of their homes and vote,” he said. “Participate in the festival of democracy, enjoy it and vote. Forces are deployed everywhere. A lot of monitoring is being done to ensure that the election is free from inducement. No other incident should happen.”

Prominent candidates in the first phase include incumbent Chief Minster Bhupendra Patel contesting the Ghatlodia constituency, AAP chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi from Khambhaliya and former Congress leader and BJP candidate Hardik Patel from Viramgam.

AAP state chief Gopal Italia is contesting the Katargam constituency, Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi from Majura, cricketer Ravindra Jadeja’s wife Rivaba Jadeja from Jamnagar North, former minister and BJP leader Parshottam Solanki from Bhavnagar Rural and BJP’s Kantilal Amrutiya from Morbi.

In this phase, 2,39,76,670 voters, including 1,24,33,362 males, 1,1,5,42,811 females and 497 members of the transgender community are eligible to vote.

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