December 4, 2008 6:37:01 pm
Inter-caste violence and clashes among supporters of rival candidates were witnessed at several places in Rajasthan on Thursday as nearly 60 per cent of the voters turned out for polling for the 200-member state assembly.
A CRPF jawan fired in the air to disperse a mob at Badikhera village under Ladpura Constituency of Kota district but no one was hurt, Director-General of State Police K S Bains said.
There were reports of problems in functioning of electronic voting machines (EVMs)in Jaipur, Ajmer and Sawaimadhopur district, Vinod Zutshi, Chief Electoral Officer, said. The repolling, if any, would be decided on the basis of the reports of the returning officers.
Rajasthan Governor S K Singh and his wife Manju had to wait for quite a while to cast their ballot as the EVM at Jaipur’s Hawasrak area booth malfunctioned.
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The fate of Chief Minister Vasudhra Raje, AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot and PCC president C P Joshi besides many BJP ministers was sealed in the EVMs by about 60 per cent of the 3.6 crore-strong electorate.
Altogether 2194 candidates including 200 of Congress, 193 of BJP, 199 of BSP, and 1019 independents are in the fray. Counting of votes will take place on December 8.
A supporter of former minister and expelled BJP leader K L Meena allegedly opened fire at a group of Gujjar voters who were on their way to a polling booth near Balghat in Todabheem constituency injuring one person, Home Department sources said.
Caste rivalry was suspected to be the reason for the violence, they said. A police team was sent to arrest the culprit identified as Holasingh Meena, the sources added.
About 68 per cent polling was registered in the 2003 assembly polls.
Zutshi said the exact percentage of voter turn out today would be known later when figures from all constituencies are received.
In another incident, members of a Scheduled Caste community laid a siege at police station in Mahua area in Bharatpur division claiming they were not allowed to cast their ballot by people belonging to an ‘influential’ caste, they said.
A police party escorted hundreds of the protesting members to the polling booth, the sources said.
In Degana constituency, two groups of ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress clashed at a polling station in which five persons were injured, they said.
Six persons were injured in a similar clash at Nedach village in Nathdwara assembly constituency of Rajsamand district late Wednesday night, the police said.
Polling was stopped at a booth at Nimla village of Thanagazi assembly constituency in Alwar district following a clash between supporters of an independent candidate Kanti Meena and members of other castes.
The clash erupted when supporters of Kanti Meena, who is the sitting MLA, started pelting stones on a rival group, the police claimed.
It is virtually a straight fight between the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress barring in few pockets of Bharatatpur, Sawaimadhipur, Kota, Alwar and Tonk districts where triangular contest was witnessed due to BSP or rebel candidates.
142 women candidates, including 32 of BJP and 23 of the Congress, were also in the poll battle.
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