Gujarat Elections 2022: Gujarat witnessed around 60 per cent voter turnout till 5:00 pm today (December 1) in the first phase of assembly polls. The voting began at 8:00 am to decide the fate of 788 candidates in 89 constituencies which spread across 19 districts.
Barring a few incidents, polling was largely peaceful across all 89 seats in south Gujarat and Saurashtra-Kutch regions which went to polls in the first phase.
The voter turn-out figure was provisional as data from some polling stations had not been received and it also did not include postal ballots, the Election Commission said. Voting was halted in a few places due to malfunctioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) as well as control units and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) but the faulty units were replaced and the process resumed, it added.
According to the data from the Election Commission, Tapi district continued to witness the highest voter turnout at 72.32 per cent till 5:00 pm followed by Narmada at 68.09 per cent and Dangs at 64.84 per cent. Gir Somnath, which had seen 50.89 per cent till 3:00 pm, saw over 60 per cent turnout. Morbi saw a turnout of over 56 per cent.
Devbhumi Dwarka saw a turnout of over 59.11 per cent. Amreli saw polling percentage of (52.73), Bharuch (59.36), Bhavnagar (51.34), Bhavnagar (51.34), Botad (51.64), Jamnagar (53.98), Junagadh (52.04), Kachchh (54.52), Navsari (65.91), Porbandar (53.84), Rajkot (51.66), Surat (57.16), Surendranagar (58.14), and Valsad (62.46).
The total electorate includes 1,24,33,362 males and 1,1,5,42,811 females. The voter turnout was 48.48 per cent till 3:00 pm.
Locals protested at Dhrafa village in Jamjodhpur taluka of Jamnagar district as there were no separate polling booths for men and women. They threatened to boycott voting, claiming that separate booths were always set up in the past.
In Junagadh, a ruckus broke out after police tried to stop a Congress leader who walked to the polling station carrying a gas cylinder on his shoulder to protest against inflation. Such protest was seen in many other places too.
The EC tweeted the picture of 104-year old Ramjibhai who, it said, "participated in the festival of democracy by voting at the polling station instead of opting for a postal ballot."
At least 33 ballot units, 29 control units and 69 VVPATs were replaced in the first three hours of polling at different stations due to malfunctioning, the office of Chief Electoral Officer said in a statement.
"Around 0.1 per cent ballot units, 0.1 per cent control units and 0.3 per cent VVPATs have been replaced in three hours of voting. "Reserve machine sets are available in all districts with the zonal officer in-charge of that area. Wherever a small or big problem occurs, arrangements have been made to replace them in no time," it added.
Former chief minister Vijay Rupani, state BJP chief CR Paatil, Rajya Sabha member Parimal Nathwani, BJP candidate from Jamnagar (North) Rivaba Jadeja, former Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani, state Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) president Gopal Italia were among those who voted early.
While Rivaba Jadeja voted in Rajkot, her husband and cricketer Ravindra Jadeja voted in Jamnagar. AAP's Italia questioned the slow turnout in the initial hours.
"Voting is being deliberately slowed down in Katargam AC. @ECISVEEP If you have to work this way under the pressure of the BJP goons, then why are you holding elections? An average of 3.5 percent voting was done in the entire state but only 1.41 per cent in Katargam. Don't stoop so low to defeat a small child," he said in a tweet.
Urban, tribal and rural belt voter turnout:
In the first phase of the Gujarat assembly elections, rural and tribal voters have come out in large numbers, but the urban voters have not come out to vote on such a scale.
Till 3 p.m., 48.48 % voters voted for 788 candidates in 89 constituencies in Saurashtra and Kutch and South Gujarat. The highest voting has been reported in Tapi district at 64.27%, Narmada 63.88% and Dangs 58.55%. In Saurashtra's Bhavnagar district it was 45.91 percent, Junagadh district 46.03 % and Surat 47.01% votes.
Constituency-wise voting shows a huge difference between enthusiasm for voting in tribal reserve seat Nizar at 66.42%, Kaprada (64.45%), whereas in the urban areas it was 42.90% in Rajkot West and 43.42% in Rajkot South.
In Rajkot district, in the most sensitive assembly constituency Gondal, Congress candidate Yatish Desai alleged that the party's polling agent Jaydeep Parakhiya was beaten up by BJP leader Babubhai Toliya's son, they attempted bogus voting at Jamvadi polling station of the constituency.
The second phase of voting on December 5 will cover the remaining 93 seats in the 182-member Assembly and counting of ballots will place on December 8 along with that of the Himachal Pradesh elections.
(With agencies inputs)