The Election Commission of India on Saturday urged citizens in urban segments of Gujarat to vote in large numbers in the second phase of the elections to “compensate for low voting” in the first leg of the polls.

The poll panel rued that urban apathy “continues unabated from Shimla to Surat”.

The first phase of the Gujarat elections, which was held on December 1, registered a turnout of 63.14%, PTI reported. In the 2017 Assembly elections, the figure for the first phase was 66.75%.

The Himachal Pradesh elections, held on November 12, saw a record turnout of 75.6%. The Shima constituency recorded the lowest turnout of 62.53%.

On Saturday, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar urged voters to cast their ballots in large numbers in the second phase of the Gujarat elections on December 5. “The possibility of surpassing 2017 voting percentage now lies in their increased participation only,” the poll panel said.

The Election Commission said that there was a “conspicuous gap” between rural and urban constituencies in terms of voter turnout.

“The gap of voter turnout is as wide as 34.85% if it is compared in rural constituency of Dediapada in Narmada district which has recorded 82.71% and that in urban AC of Gandhidham in Kuchchh district which has witnessed 47.86% of voter turnout,” it said. “Also, average turnout in important urban areas is lower than turnout in rural constituencies.”

The poll panel noted that the voting percentage declined in all three Assembly constituencies in the Rajkot city as compared to the 2017 elections. The decline in Rajkot West was “very sharp” at 10.56%, it said.

The Election Commission said that all seats in Gujarat that recorded a turnout of more than 65% were rural ones, whereas not even a single urban constituency crossed the 65% mark.

“To address the urban apathy trend across the country, the Commission has directed all CEOs [Chief Electoral Officers] to identify low voter turnout ACs and Polling stations to ensure targeted awareness interventions to increase voting percentage,” the poll panel said.