Low voter-turnout in initial hours of Gujarat Assembly polls

December 11th, 2007 - 4:12 pm ICT by admin  

Ahmedabad, Dec 11 (ANI): A low voter turnout was witnessed in the initial hours of the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections that is being held today.
Polling is being held in 87 constituencies of the total 182 Assembly segments. Majority (58) of which are located in the Saurashtra and the Kutch regions, while 29 seats are in South Gujarat.
Reports suggest that the voting is picking up gradually.
Around 1,78,77,771 voters (93,14,640 males and 85,63,131 females) will decide the fate of 669 candidates, including 53 women in the fray.
The Election Commission has set up 19,924 polling stations for voting and as many number of electronic voting machines has been put to use.
Polls in Saurashtra will be an acid test for Chief Minister Narendra Modi, though the region has been traditionally the BJP stronghold.
The BJP’s fortunes in the Saurashtra region can be altered due to the absence of BJP stalwart Keshubhai Patel from campaigning, since he has reportedly issued an appeal for change of guard in the state.
Vallabhbhai Kathiria, a BJP lawmaker, who supports Keshubhai Patel said: “It is not only Keshubhai’s appeal but it is the atmosphere in the entire state of Gujarat to protect democracy, its honour and the people’s wishes will be reflected in the votes.”
But the State’s Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala, said Keshubai’s appeal is an old talk and no longer relevant.
The voting is a clear indication of society and today’s voters know what is happening in a society, who is good, who is bad, who is efficient and who has potential. Keeping all this in mind they cast their votes,” he said.
Vala is contesting as a BJP candidate from Rajkot-II constituency.
The first two hours of voting for the nine assembly constituencies in Surat recorded 4.21 per cent voting, while 11 constituencies in Rajkot recorded 8 per cent voting.
In Surat North, BJP rebel leader Dhirubhai Gajera, who is fighting on a Congress ticket, is among the prominent candidates in the fray.
Balubhai Tanti, Bechar Bhadani, Bavku Undhad, are some of the other rebels who are contesting on Congress tickets in the two-phased elections.
Gujarat’s Irrigation Minister Narottam Patel (BJP) is contesting from Chorasi Assembly constituency of Surat district.
Apart from the rebels, several sitting Congress MLAs including leader of Opposition Arjun Modhvadiya, Babu Meghji Shah, Bhavan Bharvad, Madhubhai Bhoye and Chandrika Chudasama, will be seeking re-election.
Modhvadiya is facing BJP candidate Shanta Odedara from Porbandar constituency of Saurashtra.
Tight security arrangements have been made to ensurefree and fair elections. Police and para-military forces have been deployed.
For the first time, the EC has appointed 3,339 micro observers, who have been given the task to observe voting in sensitive booths, to ensure that no untoward incident takes place.
The BJP has fielded candidates for all the 87 constituencies while the Congress is fighting in 82 seats.
The BSP has put up 78 candidates, NCP four, Communist Party of India one and CPI (M) one.
The poll campaign in Gujarat witnessed acrimonious debates with Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi dubbing Narendra Modi-led State government as “Merchants of Death” and Modi trying to woo voters with a pronounced pro-Hindu stance to the extent of justifying the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in the 2005 fake encounter.
The BJP managed to win 127 seats, while the Congress party was able to win only 51 seats in the 2002 Gujarat Assembly polls. The Janata Dal (United) and independents won two seats each.
The BJP had won 16 seats in South Gujarat in 2002, while Congress had got 11 seats and two seats went to JD (U).
The BJP had won 39 seats in Saurashtra and Kutch regions in 2002, while the Congress has won 18 and one seat had gone to an independent candidate.
The second phase of polling for the remaining seats will be held on December 16, while the counting for votes will take place on December 23. (ANI)

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