Local bodies’ elections: Violence mars Gondal taluka panchayat polls

Two injured as Congress, BJP workers clash in Gondal. Polling was also conducted for general election of two municipalities and by-election of four district panchayats and 15 taluka panchayats.

By: Express News Service | Gandhinagar/rajkot | Published:November 28, 2016 12:44 am
gondal-759 In the local body election to the Gondal taluka panchayat held in November last year, Congress had won 12 out of 22 seats.

The Gujarat State Election Commission Sunday conducted polling of total 134 seats of various municipalities, district panchayats and taluka panchayats. Among them, polling was conducted for mid-term election of Gondal taluka panchayat, general election of two municipalities and by-election of four district panchayats and 15 taluka panchayats.

Politically, most significant of the elections was the mid-term poll of Gondal taluka panchayat of Rajkot district which was marred by violence and recorded approximately 55.09 per cent voting. The mid-term election to the 22-member taluka panchayat was warranted after Gujarat government superseded the panchayat board on June 20 this year. The government action had come in the wake of ruling Congress failing to pass the budget for the taluka panchayat thrice.

In the local body election to the Gondal taluka panchayat held in November last year, Congress had won 12 out of 22 seats. But one of its members cross-voted in the subsequent elections for the post of president and vice-president of the panchayat. This resulted in a tie, with candidates of both Congress and BJP securing 11 votes each. To end the embargo, lots were drawn and Congress won the post of president while BJP succeeded to corner the post of vice-president.

While the Congress de facto ruled the taluka panchayat, its one member continued to cross vote at budget meetings also.

On Sunday, groups of Congress and BJP workers clashed in Harmadiya village of Gondal taluka over allegations of bogus voting.

Police said the clashes started when one Lalji Bhundiya, whose wife Gita was a Congress candidate from that seat, questioned the presence of one Kar-ansinh Darbar near polling station.

Bhundiya alleged that bogus voting was going on in the village. However, Darbar, a BJP supporter, claimed he was the sarpanch of that village and asked Bhundiya what he was doing there.

“This led to clashes between workers of Congress and BJP. Two persons have been injured in the incident. Bhundiya has filed a complaint against Darbar and we are in the process of registering an offence,” Gondal taluka police sub-inspector Ashok Mehta said.

Bhundiya and one another were rushed to civil hospital in Rajkot for treatment.

However, Chiman Patel, returning officer for the taluka panchayat mid-term election, said the incident did not affect polling.

“The clashes took place away from polling station. The incident didn’t affect the polling and voting went on peacefully even after it,” Patel said.

Secretary of Gujarat State Election Commission M V Joshi said that while elections were held for a number of seats, the most important for the Commission were the general polls for two municipalities, Vapi and Kanakpur-Kansad (of south Gujarat) and mid-term poll of Gondal taluka panchayat. No major incidence of violence was recorded throughout the day.”