A police van constantly patrols the booths as four police officers keep vigil outside the polling booth at Eral village primary schools where voting for the gram panchayat was held on Tuesday. The village has been part of the communally sensitive region of Panchmahals, reporting killings during the 2002 riots. A few months back, there was a communal clash over a petty issue of a marriage procession, which has kept the police on its toes. Nine candidates are contesting for the post of sarpanch for Eral Gram Panchayat which has 2,560 registered voters. One of the contestants Rakesh Gadhvi said, “More women are here to vote this time. Also, young candidates are contesting this year.”
Watch What Else Is Making News
Thirteen kilometers from Eral, at Vejalpur, one of the biggest panchayats in the Panchmahals, with more than 12,500 registered voters, a good number of people started gathering at the voting booth since early morning onwards. Four women candidates are contesting for the sarpanch’s post in Vejalpur. Eight booths have been set up at various schools in the village. V A Suthar, a resident of the Naika faliya of Vejalpur, who came to cast the vote, said, “The voters are very aware and they know now whom to vote. This time I have seen more voters than last time.” Jayanti Patel, incumbent sarpanch at the Vejalpur gram panchayat, said, “This year, candidates campaigned door-to-door or organised small meetings. They avoided big expenses like rally this year.”
While in the neighbouring village Bhukhi, Ranjeet Gohil, a resident of the village, said, “This year, not many people are found in inebriated condition near booths. Last time, the scenario was different. Women are welcoming the strict prohibition law by the government.”
In Vadatalav village of Halol taluka, 77- year-old Ramabhai Nayka cast his vote. Two villagers helped him reach the booth as he was not able to walk. Nayka said, “More women are participating. They will do something good for our village.” In Vadatalav gram panchayat, three women candidates are contesting for sarpanch. In Panchmahals district, there are 372 grampanchayat of which 37 opted for samras, leaving 335 of them to contest. Total 1,139 candidates contested for the post of sarpanch and 6,408 candidates contested for panchayat members.