Gujarat Assembly Elections: 60 pc turnout in Phase 1 covering 83 seats; Congress alleges booth capturing, bogus voting : The Tribune India

Gujarat Assembly Elections: 60 pc turnout in Phase 1 covering 83 seats; Congress alleges booth capturing, bogus voting

Voter turnout less than 66.75 pc recorded in first phase of 2017 Assembly polls

Gujarat Assembly Elections: 60 pc turnout in Phase 1 covering 83 seats; Congress alleges booth capturing, bogus voting

Polling is being conducted for 89 constituencies in the first phase of the elections on December 1, 2022. Reuters



PTI

Ahmedabad, December 1

A moderate voter turnout of 60.23 per cent was recorded in the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections covering 89 seats across 19 districts of Saurashtra-Kutch and southern regions of the state on Thursday with the polling ending on by and large peaceful note, officials said.

The electoral fate of 788 candidates who were in the fray in the first phase was locked in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

While the final voting figure was awaited, the average turnout stood provisionally at 60.23 per cent, the Election Commission (EC) said.

The voter turnout was less than 66.75 per cent recorded in the first phase of the 2017 Assembly polls.

Barring a few untoward incidents and reports of technical glitch in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) at some places, the voting process, which commenced at 8 am, was largely peaceful, Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer P Bharathi said.

An average 60.23 per cent voter turnout was recorded and the final figure was still being collated, the EC said.

As per the provisional figure, Narmada district recorded the highest voter turnout at 73.02 per cent followed by Tapi district at 72.32 per cent.

As many as eight districts recorded more than 60 per cent voting. Surat registered 60.17 per cent turnout and Rajkot 57.69 per cent, according to EC data.

In the 2017 Assembly elections, a voter turnout of 66.75 per cent was recorded in the first phase (covering 83 seats), while the final figure after the end of second and last phase of polling stood at 68.41 per cent.

While voting was underway in parts of the state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed rallies in support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at Kalol in Panchmahal district and Sankheda in Chhota Udepur, where polling will be held in the second phase on December 5 covering the remaining 93 seats in the 182-member Assembly.

The office of the Chief Election Officer (CEO) said voters of three villages - Dhrafa in Jamnagar district, Samot in Narmada district and Kesar in Bharuch district - completely boycotted the election for different reasons.

During the voting, 89 ballot units, 82 control units and 238 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) were replaced in 19 districts.  A total 26,269 ballot units, 25,430 control units and 25,430 VVPATs were operational, it said.

Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail is an independent system attached with EVMs that allows electors to verify that their votes are cast as intended.

CEO Bharathi said there were two complaints of violence during voting in Jamangar and Dang district which are being looked into.

A total of 104 complaints were received at the office of the CEO, including six regarding EVMs, two of bogus voting, 30 related to law and order issues, 36 regarding violation of the model code of conduct (MCC) and 30 on issues like slow voting, bogus voting and power cuts, it said in a release.

At Dhrafa village of Jamnagar district, where polling was boycotted, electors were apparently upset over polling officers not making separate arrangements for men and women. In Kesar village of Bharuch district, villagers boycotted the election due to lack of basic facilities, said the release.

Samot village in Narmada district, which has 1,625 voters, boycotted the election over the issue of regularisation of farmland, it said.

In Junagadh district, a ruckus broke out after police tried to stop a Congress leader who walked towards a polling station carrying a gas cylinder on his shoulders to protest against the rising prices of essential commodities.

The EC tweeted a picture of a 104-year-old man, Ramjibhai, who it said, “participated in the festival of democracy by voting at the polling station instead of opting for a postal ballot.” The opposition Congress submitted six different complaints, one of them related to “booth capturing” in Surendranagar district, to election authorities after the first phase of voting on 89 Assembly seats.

In one of the complaints, the Congress alleged a polling booth situated in Samla village falling under the Limbdi Assembly seat of Surendranagar district was captured by some anti-social elements.

However, Surendranagar collector KC Sampat, who is also the district election officer, said a probe revealed no such incident took place and the booth in question was being monitored at the district level through a live webcast.

Other complaints included bogus voting by anti-social elements on some booths in Botad district, deliberately slowing down polling process by officials in Jamnagar and authorities allowing party symbols inside a booth in the Palsana area of Surat city.

A complaint was also submitted to the office of the Gujarat CEO about television channels running interviews of voters coming out of booths, which could influence people who will exercise their franchise in seats going to polls on December 5 in the second phase, said Gujarat Congress spokesperson Hiren Banker.

“The Congress has also complained that live telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rallies (organised by BJP as part of campaigning for 2nd phase) in different parts of Gujarat also violated the Model Code of Conduct because voting was going when the rallies were being aired,” said Banker.

Additional CEO of Gujarat Kuldeep Arya, however, clarified that telecast of the PM’s rallies organised in other parts of the state (not covered by the first phase polling) as well as airing of interviews of voters do not violate any rule.

Former Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, state BJP president C R Paatil, Rajya Sabha member Parimal Nathwani, BJP candidate from Jamnagar (North) Rivaba Jadeja, former Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani of the Congress, state Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) president Gopal Italia were among early voters.

While Rivaba Jadeja voted in Rajkot, her husband, cricketer Ravindra Jadeja, exercised his franchise in Jamnagar.

People participated enthusiastically in voting and some did not miss a chance to stand out or make a statement. Congress leader Paresh Dhanani cycled his way to a polling station with a gas cylinder tied on the back.

He was not alone. There were a few more, including an AAP candidate, who did the same to make a point against inflation.

There was a voter in Rajkot who walked to a polling station with his cow and a calf to protest against the government’s “inaction” in preventing death of cattle due to the lumpy skin disease.

A brother-sister duo in Surat celebrated their first-time voting after turning 18 by going to a polling station on horses.

The counting of votes cast in both phases will take place on December 8. PTI

#Gujarat

14:48 01 Dec
34.65 pc voter turnout till 1 pm

An average voter turnout of 34.65 per cent wass recorded till 1 pm.  Voting began at 8 am and 33 ballot units, 29 control units and 69 voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs) were replaced in the first three hours of polling at different stations due to malfunctioning, the office of the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said.

Tapi recorded the highest voter turnout at 46.29 per cent till 1 pm, followed by Dang 46.22 per cent and Narmada 46.16 per cent. All these districts are tribal-dominated.

Porbandar recorded the lowest turnout of 30.06 per cent and Botad reported 30.12 per cent voting during the period.

The voting percentage in Surat stood at 33.40 per cent and in Rajkot at 32.89 per cent.

10:45 01 Dec
Amit Shah mades appeal to voters

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also made an appeal to the voters: "In the last two decades, Gujarat has become synonymous with development and peace, which every Indian is proud of. But this was possible because of the strong government elected by the people of Gujarat.

"I appeal to the voters of the first phase to vote with unprecedented enthusiasm and numbers to continue this development journey." 

10:39 01 Dec
4.92 pc turnout in first hour of polling in Gujarat

An average 4.92 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the first hour of polling. The EC tweeted a picture of a centenarian voter, Kamuben Patel, proudly showing her inked finger after casting her vote at a polling station in Umbergaon Assembly constituency in Valsad district.

 Former Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and state Aam Aadmi Party president Gopal Italia were also among the early voters.

09:53 01 Dec
PM Modi calls for record voting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged the voters in Gujarat, especially those exercising their franchise for the first time, to poll in record numbers.

He tweeted the appeal as the first first phase of the assembly elections was set to start in his home state.

"Today is the first phase of the Gujarat elections. I call upon all those voting today, particularly first time voters to exercise their franchise in record numbers," Modi said.

08:41 01 Dec
Isudan Gadhvi, Gopal Italia, Rivaba Jadeja are prominent contenders 

The first phase of election will decide the fate of AAP's chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi, who is contesting from Khambhalia seat in Devbhumi Dwarka district. AAP state unit president Gopal Italia is contesting from Katargam in Surat.

Rivaba Jadeja, the wife of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja, is another prominent contender from Jamnagar (North).

BJP MLAs Harsh Sanghavi and Purnesh Modi (both contesting from different seats in Surat) as well as five-time legislator Parshottam Solanki (Bhavnagar-Rural) are also contesting in the first phase. Sitting Congress MLAs like Lalit Kagathara, Lalit Vasoya (both from seats in Rajkot) and Mohammad Javed Pirzada are also in the fray in the first phase from seats in Saurashtra region.

Seven-time MLA and veteran tribal leader Chhotu Vasava is contesting from Jhagadia in Bharuch. With 54 seats, the Saurashtra-Kutch region is crucial for the Congress as it seeks to improve its performance.

08:39 01 Dec
339 independents are in fray

Apart from the BJP, Congress and AAP, 36 other political outfits, including the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) have also fielded candidates in various seats up for grabs the first phase.

The BSP has fielded 57 candidates, BTP 14 and CPI-M four candidates. As many as 339 independents are also in the fray in the first phase.

08:37 01 Dec
BJP, Congress contesting in all 89 seats; AAP in 88

BJP and the Congress are contesting in all 89 seats

This time, the BJP faces competition not just from its traditional rival Congress but also the new poll entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has tried to position itself as the main challenger of the ruling party. The BJP and the Congress are contesting in all 89 seats.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP is contesting in 88 seats. Its candidate from Surat East constituency had withdrawn his candidature, leaving the party with one less seat to contest in the first phase.

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