BJP and Congress candidates claimed victories even as the voter turnout for the bypoll to Rajkot West constituency remained low to around 50 per cent on Wednesday.
Approximately half of the 2,91,866 voters in the constituency, which covers posh areas of the city, exercised their franchise on Wednesday. Ratubhait Chaurdhari, returning officer (RO) for the bypoll, said that 49.32 per cent turnout was recorded. “This is a provisional figure as we haven’t received the final reports. The polling remained peaceful and there is no report of any untoward incident from anywhere. Electronic voting machine (EVM) at polling station was replaced after it developed technical fault during mock polling,” said Chaudhari.
People turned out in good number in the morning hours and by 11 am, 18 per cent voters had cast their vote. However, the polling slackened in the afternoon as people remained indoors due to a beating sun. It gathered pace in last few hours to touch the mark of around 50 per cent, officials said.
Among prominent voters were Vajubhai Vala, the Karnataka Governor who happened to be in the city. “The Governor had come to Rajkot on Tuesday to attend convocation of a private university in the district. He cast his vote in Harihar Society early in the morning before flying out at 9 am,” Vala’s close friend and president of Sargam Club, Gunvant Delawala said.
Incidentally, BJP veteran Vala, who was speaker of Gujarat Assembly till this August, had been elected MLA from this constituency seven times. However, he had resigned as MLA after he was appointed Governor, and thereby warranting the bypoll.
Rajkot West Assembly segment had recorded 64.93 per cent polling in Lok Sabha election in April this year. In 2012 Assembly elections, 63.61 per cent voters had cast their votes.
Despite the low turnout, BJP candidate Vijay Rupani and Congress candidate Jayanti Kalariya claimed victories. “This seat is a fortress of the BJP. The turnout is on expected line. Vadadara Lok Sabha seat and Maninagar Assembly constituency had witnessed around 43 per cent and 45 per cent voting in bypoll last month. BJP had won both the seats despite low polling percentage and we are confident of winning this seat also,” Rupani, who is also general secretary of Gujarat BJP said.
On the other hand, Kalariya claimed he would be benefited from the low turnout. “BJP supports have not come out to cast their vote as they are disappointed with the way the party is being run. On the other hand, heavy polling has been recorded in ward numbers 10,11,12 and 13 which are strong pockets of Congress. So, I am confident of victory,” said Kalariya.