Gujarat records provisional voter turnout of 56.91 pc in 25 seats

Ahmedabad, May 7(PTI) A provisional voter turnout of 56.91 per cent was recorded in the single-phase polling for 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in Gujarat amid scorching heat and complaints of EVM malfunction and bogus voting at some places, but the overall election was peaceful, officials said.

Gujarat had registered a voter turnout of 64.11 per cent in the 2019 parliamentary polls.

As per the data shared by the Election Commission, the state recorded a voter turnout of 56.91 per cent till 6 pm in 25 seats.

Officials, however, said this is a provisional figure as the data from some polling stations is awaited and the number of postal ballots not included.

Addressing a press conference in Gandhinagar, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) P. Bharathi said the exact voting figures will come by midnight.

Of the 26 constituencies, polling was held for 25 seats barring Surat, which the BJP had won uncontested after eight out of nine candidates withdrew from the race and the nomination of the Congress candidate was rejected.

Union Home Minister Shah and his Cabinet colleagues Mansukh Mandaviya and Parshottam Rupala were in the fray from Gandhinagar, Porbandar, and Rajkot seats, respectively, among 265 candidates in 25 constituencies.

Voting began at 7 am and continued till 6 pm amid the maximum temperatures crossing 40 degrees Celcius in many towns and cities. The day temperatures soared up to 43.3 degrees Celsius in Ahmedabad, 43.5 in Bhuj, 41.3 in Deesa, 42.5 in Gandhinagar and 42.7 in Rajkot.

“Voting for 25 seats ended peacefully today evening. During the day, we replaced 116 Ballot Units (BU), 114 Control Units (CU) and 383 VVPAT machines of Electronic Voting Machines due to technical reasons,” Bharathi said.

While no untoward incident occurred during the day, a woman polling officer died due to a possible heart attack when she was doing her duty at a booth in Amreli district, said Bharathi.

She said not a single vote was cast in Kesar village in Bharuch, Sandhara village in Surat and Bhakhri village in Banaskantha because of the boycott call given by villagers.

“We also learned about partial boycott at Bhatgam in Junagadh and Bodeli and Punjra villages in Mahisagar district as the voter turnout was nearly 10 per cent in those villages,” the CEO said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah, and Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel were among the early voters.

Modi cast his vote at Nishan School in the Ranip area in Ahmedabad, Shah exercised his franchise at a polling booth in the Naranpura area, both of which fall under the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat.

Bilkis Bano, a victim of the 2002 communal riots, cast her vote along with her husband in Devgadh Baria town under Dahod Lok Sabha constituency.

“During the day, the CEO’s office received 92 complaints regarding violation of Model Code of Conduct, EVMs, bogus voting, or law and order related issues,” Bharathi said.

While most of the complaints were resolved, Action Taken Reports were sought from respective district election officers in three to four complaints, said additional CEO, Kuldeep Arya, adding that FIRs were registered by district authorities in some cases.

In one of its complaints, the Congress claimed an EVM had stopped working at a polling booth in Vasan village in Gandhinagar, said Arya.

“Our inquiry revealed that a voter had deliberately poured Fevikwik on the name of a particular candidate on the EVM machine during voting due to which, a button got jammed. We immediately replaced the machine and the issue was resolved in one hour,” said Arya.

The Congress also complained that a BJP polling agent was carrying a pen with the party symbol inside a polling booth in Gandhinagar, said Arya.

In a video, state Congress chief Shaktisinh Gohil can be seen reprimanding the presiding officer of a booth after finding the BJP’s poll agent with the pen having the party symbol.

Arya said such pens were given by BJP to its workers tasked with handling the party’s “election booth”, which are set up by parties 200 meters away from polling booths.

“Our inquiry revealed that polling agents who were supposed to sit inside polling booths were not given such pens by the BJP. But, somehow, this particular agent had that pen and the presiding officer was not aware of it,” said Arya.

The Congress also lodged a complaint claiming the BJP organised a roadshow of Modi outside the polling booth in Ranip when he came to cast his vote, said Arya.

“As per the district election officer’s report, the BJP had not organised any roadshow there. Barricades on both sides of the road were put up as a safety measure because PM enjoys SPG security. You cannot call it a roadshow if people voluntarily assemble behind those barricades,” said Arya.

The PM reached the polling booth on foot and left similarly while his official vehicles were parked 200 meters away.

In Banaskantha district, Congress nominee Geniben Thakor alleged that electors were threatened and asked to vote for the BJP by some youngsters posing as CRPF personnel at a polling station.

Banaskantha collector and returning officer Varunkumar Baranwal said he has asked the district superintendent of police and sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) to conduct an inquiry.

The number of voters in Gujarat is 4.97 crore. There are 50,788 polling booths.

Share this article
Shareable URL
Prev Post

BJP will provide pension to journalists if voted to power in Odisha: Pradhan

Next Post

Reform continuity vital for Sri Lanka to prevent another downturn, says Central Bank Governor

Read next