The first round of the Gujarat Assembly elections, which included 89 seats in 19 districts in the Saurashtra-Kutch and southern areas of the state, saw a moderate voter turnout of 60.23 percent, with the voting generally ending on a peaceful note, according to officials.
788 candidates who competed in the first round of voting had their electoral future sealed by electronic voting machines.
The EC said that the average voter turnout was 60.23 percent, and that the final result was still being tallied.
According to the preliminary data, Tapi district had the second-highest voter turnout at 72.32 percent, followed by Narmada district’s 73.02 percent.
Up to eight districts reported voting rates of greater than 60%. According to EC data, Surat saw a turnout of 60.17 percent and Rajkot of 57.69 percent.
The average turnout was reported by the Election Commission (EC) as 60.23 percent while the official voting figure was still being calculated. Less than 66.75 percent of eligible voters participated in the first round of the 2017 Assembly elections. The voting process, which started at 8 am, was mainly calm, according to Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer P Bharathi, with the exception of a few unfortunate instances and reports of technical issues with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in select localities.
While voting took place in some areas of the state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at rallies in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the districts of Kalol in Panchmahal and Sankheda in Chhota Udepur, where voting will take place in the second phase on December 5 for the final 93 seats in the 182-member Assembly.
Voters from three villages—Dhrafa in Jamnagar district, Samot in Narmada district, and Kesar in Bharuch district—completely boycotted the poll, according to the office of the Chief Election Officer (CEO), for a variety of reasons.
In 19 districts, 238 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs), 89 Ballot Units, and 82 Control Units were replaced during the vote. It claimed that 25,430 control units, 26,269 ballot units, and 25,430 VVPATs were all in use.
Voters in Jamnagar district’s Dhrafa village reportedly boycotted the election because poll workers did not make separate accommodations for men and women. The absence of basic amenities led to a boycott of the poll in the village of Kesar in the Bharuch district, according to the release.
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Samot village, which has 1,625 voters and is located in Narmada district, reportedly boycotted the election on the subject of agricultural regularisation.
A commotion erupted in Junagadh district when police attempted to halt a Congress leader who was making his way to the polls while toting a gas cylinder on his shoulders as a sign of protest against the growing costs of basic necessities.
In a tweet, the EC shared a photo of Ramjibhai, a 104-year-old voter who it said “participated in the celebration of democracy by voting at the polling station instead of choosing a postal ballot.”
After the first round of voting for 89 Assembly seats, the opposition Congress filed six different complaints with the election officials, one of which was over “booth capture” in the Surendranagar district.
In one of the allegations, the Congress claimed that certain anti-social elements had taken control of a polling station in the Samla village, which is part of the Limbdi Assembly seat of the Surendranagar district.
The district election officer and collector for Surendranagar, KC Sampat, claimed an investigation showed no such occurrence occurred and that the booth in question was being watched live online at the district level.
Other concerns included the purposeful slowing down of the voting process by officials in Jamnagar, fake voting by anti-social groups in several booths in Botad district, and authorities allowing party emblems inside a booth in the Palsana neighbourhood of Surat city.
According to Gujarat Congress spokesperson Hiren Banker, a complaint was also made to the CEO of Gujarat about television stations interviewing voters as they leave polling places, which may have an impact on those who exercise their right to vote in the seats that will go to the polls on December 5 in the second phase.
According to Banker, “The Congress has also complained that the live telecast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rallies in various parts of Gujarat (organised by the BJP as part of campaigning for the second phase) also violated the Model Code of Conduct because voting was taking place at the time the rallies were being aired.”
However, additional Gujarat CEO Kuldeep Arya explained that airing voter interviews and telecasts of the PM’s rallies held in areas of the state not included in the first phase of voting do not contravene any laws.
Early voters included former Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, state Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) president Gopal Italia, state BJP president C R Paatil, Rajya Sabha member Parimal Nathwani, BJP candidate Rivaba Jadeja of Jamnagar (North), and former Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani of the Congress.
While her husband, cricketer Ravindra Jadeja, exercised his right to vote in Jamnagar, Rivaba Jadeja cast her ballot in Rajkot.
Voting was avidly participated in, and some people seized the opportunity to stand out or make a statement. Paresh Dhanani, the leader of the Congress, rode his bicycle while carrying a gas can connected to the rear.
He wasn’t by himself. There were a few more who done the same to protest inflation, including an AAP candidate.
In Rajkot, a voter protested the government’s “inaction” in halting the mortality of cattle due to the lumpy skin disease by carrying his cow and calf to the polling place.
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