Updated: December 9, 2017 3:51:36 pm
Voters turned up in large number in Saurashtra and south Gujarat after voting began Saturday in phase-I of Gujarat assembly elections. The first two hours recorded an average turnout of 10 per cent. Till 12 pm, Gujarat witnessed an average voter turnout of 30.31 per cent, with the highest percentage being recorded in the districts of Tapi, Morbi and Navsari.
Even as voting progressed in parts of Gujarat, malfunctioning of EVMs was reported from some areas in Surat, like Varachha and Surat west, which were later replaced.
The Election Commission officials did not confirm any glitches in the machines, all of which are VVPAT enabled. The Congress, however, questioned the functioning of EVMs.
Political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel tweeted after voting, “EVM malfunctioning in several polling stations. Request the Election Commission to take necessary action immediately.”
Meanwhile, Congress leader and candidate from Porbandar, Arjun Modhwadia, reportedly filed a complaint with the EC that the EVMs in his constituency were “connecting via Bluetooth”. Modhwadia was not available for comment.
A polling booth official in the Porbandar constituency told The Indian Express, that a complaint was lodged by a Congress worker, Sanjay Karia, alleging that a Bluetooth device was connecting with the EVM.
“It was a misinformation campaign. He switched on the Bluetooth device on his phone which showed ‘ECO 105’, a model of the Intex brand of phones, and he raised an alarm that the EVM had been hacked. We spend two hours locating that device. Our EVMs are tamper-proof,” the official said.
In Ahmedabad, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters, “Voting is going on well, but because of the use of VVPAT, it is taking longer than usual. We would request the election commission to allow those who joined the queue by 5 pm, to be allowed to vote”.
Among the leaders who have voted so far are Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, political secretary to Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel who voted in Bharuch district, and BJP president Jitu Vaghani in Bhavnagar west.
CM Rupani’s Rajkot (west) constituency recorded 29.20 per cent polling till midday. Jasdan Assembly seat recorded the highest percentage of polling among all 8 seats, with a turnout of 35.04 per cent till 12 PM.
Meanwhile, Patidar-dominated seats Dhari (30.53 per cent), Amreli (30.80 per cent), Babra 30 (per cent), Savarkundla (25.73 per cent), Rajula (33.60 per cent) also saw a high turnout.
Patidars have at least 14 per cent of the vote share in Gujarat. Apart from Patidar-dominated regions, tribal areas in south Gujarat also reported a high voter turnout. This is the first time that EVMS are VVPAT enabled, where voters are able to verify whom their vote went to.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president urged voters to come out in large numbers and vote in this election. PM Modi will be addressing rallies in Lunavada, Bodeli, while Rahul Gandhi will be in north Gujarat.
A recorded audio message by BJP president Amit Shah had also gone out to the BJP ranks earlier this week, stressing on casting their votes by “10.30 am”, and exhorting each one to bring ten voters to the booths.
According to the figures shared by the EC about the polling recorded between 8 am to 12 pm, Tapi topped the 19 districts with 38.07 per cent polling. This was followed by Morbi at 36.16 per cent and Navsari at 35.28 per cent. The lowest polling has been recorded in Narmada where only 25.67 per cent polling has been clocked.
In the Phase-I of the polls, a total of 2.12 crore voters are expected to decided the fate of 977 candidates. Voting for the 89 seats in the first phase is being held on 24,689 polling booths located at 14,155 different places spread over Saurashtra and South Gujarat.
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