Amid voters’ woes, Gujarat local polls see 47 pc turnout

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 23 Nov 2015 12:43:12

By R K Misra

THE voting in six of the eight municipal corporations of Gujarat passed off peacefully on Sunday, with the average turnout pegged at around 47 per cent.
Except for allegations of deletion of names from voters rolls, mostly voiced by Patels who have been agitating for reservations for upper castes, the polling was by and large reported to be peaceful. The overall voting percentage in the cities of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, Surat, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar, which make up for about ten million voters, varied between 42 to 49 per cent.
Patidar voters did not forget to flaunt their identity when many of them came to vote wearing T shirts and white caps bearing the slogan ‘Jai Sardar, Jai Patidar’.
Interestingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the first to initiate compulsory voting when he was Chief Minister, did not vote as he was out of the country. Veteran BJP leader and Gandhinagar MP L K Advani came down to cast his vote.
BJP national chief Amit Shah and Chief Minister Patel cast their votes early in the day.
The e-voting experiment, initiated by Modi during his chief ministerial stint, however left much to be desired when put to the test in the present polls. The experiment had elicited poor response but even of those who had registered and were deemed e-voters after scrutiny could not vote due to glitches in the State Election Commission (SEC) servers. Many of them including former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel had to go to the polling booth to cast their vote.
All the six cities reported cases where voters who found their names missing from the voters’ list created a rukus and made a beeline for the office of the district collector who was also the returning officer for the polls.
Gujarat Congress President Bharatsinh Solanki was quick to call a press conference  and charge the SEC with colluding with the BJP Government in deleting thousands of names from the electoral rolls. He has sought an enquiry into it.
With the first phase of the elections over on Sunday, the focus now shifts to the second phase in which 31 district panchayats, 56 municipalities and 240 tehsil panchayats go to polls on November 29.