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Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Outlook.com
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Gujarat Assembly Elections

Poll Pointers

A record 68 percent turnout in the first phase of voting in the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha elections leaves everyone guessing

Poll Pointers
Poll Pointers
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

A record turnout of around 68 per cent marked the first phase of voting in the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha elections, leaving the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition guessing about its significance and outcome.

Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi described the high voter turnout as historic and said that the election in the state has passed off peacefully without any major incident being reported.

In the first phase, as many as 87 assembly seats covering 15 districts of Saurashtra and South Gujarat and four seats from Ahmedabad district figured.

According to state Chief Election Officer Anita Karwal, Tapi district in south Gujarat voted the highest with 76 percent turnout while Jamnagar district recorded the least voter turnout at 63 percent.

Among other districts, Bharuch recorded 67.5 percent, Narmada 71.8 percent, Surat 64 percent, Navsari 72 percent, Dang 66 percent, Bhavanagar68 percent Rajkot 68.8 percent, Porbandar 63.3 percent, Amreli 65.6 percent, Valsad 67 percent and Junagrh recorded a voter turnout of 67 percent.

Karwal said that the electronic component of polling had been by and large glitch free. "Out of 21261 Electronic Voting Machines, which were deployed, complaints were reported for 0.1 percent machines, which were immediately replaced,” she pointed out.

According to official sources a minor group clash involving political workers was reported from Surat in south Gujarat over a car parking issue in Limbayat area and in Talala area of Junagardh district in Saurashtra region where the windscreen of a vehicle was smashed in poll related violence.

According to Karwal a presiding officer was immediately replaced in Chuda taluka area of Surendranagar district after complaints of high handed behaviour were received regarding his conduct.

This election is seen as a taxing test of the electioneering skills of Chief Minister Narendra Modi who is seeking a third straight term with his own onetime party patriarch Keshubhai Patel and his regional outfit Gujarat Parivartan Party breathing down his neck, hostile as hostile could be.

Also sealed in the electronic vault today was the fate of some leading political stalwarts like GPP chief Keshubhai Patel,  state BJP president R C Faldu, his Congress counterpart Arjun Modhwadia and veterans like finance minister Vajubhai Vala, agriculture minister Dilip Sanghani and Narottam Patel. The voting held amid tight security was peaceful barring a couple of incidents of violence and a few complaints of technical glitches in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

The second phase of voting will be held on December 17 while the counting of votes will be taken up on December 20.

A high voter turnout in Saurashtra and south Gujarat is being considered significant by political analysts.

The Saurashtra region, which is home to the powerful Patel community, could pose a tough challenge to the chief minister with Keshubhai Patel, determined to pay back an old debt. Modi succeeded Patel in 2001 as Chief Minister before he led BJP to thumping victories in 2002 and 2007 and Patel all along holds that it was the present chief minister who conspired to have him ousted from power.

The highest polling recorded earlier was 63.70 per in 1967 elections. In 2007, the voter turnout was 59.77 per cent. Even in 2002, when Gujarat was riding on the pro-BJP wave, 61.55 per cent voting was recorded.

A total of 846 candidates are in the fray for the first phase. BJP has fielded candidates for all the 87 seats while Congress is contesting 84 and GPP for 83 seats.

People came out in large numbers since morning to cast their vote. Within three hours, the voter turnout was 18 per cent and by 1 pm it was 38 per cent. The figure went up to 53 per cent by 3 pm.

“Unprecedented rush in voting was witnessed across the four constituencies in Ahmedabad district, a stark difference from the previous assembly elections, when voting during the morning hours had remained generally dull.

At Shree Sanskar Vidyalaya, a polling station on the Ahmedabad—Viramgam highway that falls under Sanand assembly seat, more than 50 voters above 80 years, cast their votes in the first hour itself.

In Rajkot, during the fag-end of voting, police resorted to lathicharge to disperse supporters of Congress and BJP candidates who clashed with each other.

A minor fight erupted between the supporters of Kashyap Shukla, BJP candidate, and Indranil Rajyaguru of Congress near Rajkot Dairy on Bhavnagar Road, police said.

There were reports from some polling booths in Viramgam constituency, Sanand and Surat of malfunctioning of EVMs. Many people also complained of absence of their names from the electoral rolls.

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