Gujarat elections: 1st phase ends with reports of high number of EVM failures

According to the Election Commission of India, 68% voter turnout recorded in the first phase of Gujarat polls

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

NH Web Desk

First phase of polling is now over marking unusually high number of EVM failures and faults. According to the Election Commission of India, 68% voter turnout recorded in the first phase of Gujarat polls.

Though there were reports of technical glitches in EVMs in Surat and some other centres, the polling process resumed after the machines were replaced, officials of the Election Commission said.

Senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia complained that the media coverage of him voting was stopped by the SSB jawans when he went to cast his vote in Modhwada village in Porbandar district. He has raised question that when other leaders were being covered by media when casting their votes, why not him?

During the first phase of voting 1.90% of VVPATs replaced out of 24,689 units deployed.

Two BJP workers caught allegedly distributing envelopes with cash in Bharuch.

Reshma Patel, former Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convenor who later joined the BJP, was opposed by many PAAS supporters when she went to cast her vote in Jhanjharda village in Junagadh district.

A complaint has been registered with the Election Commission of India (ECI) against BJP candidate Babubhai Bokhiria from Porbandar for sloganeering near a polling booth.

Meanwhile a voter complained that the Congress candidate is at number 2 position and the 'Vote button' at no 2 position is not functioning.

Voting was boycotted by the villagers of Kalyanpur in Jam Jodhpur constituency opposing the unavailability of water in the region.

In Kamrej constituency of Surat region, there were complaints of seven to eight EVMs malfunctioning since morning. People were seen complaining as they were not able to cast their votes despite standing in queues since morning.

There were complaints of many EVMs malfunctioning in Mandvi constituency of Kutch. "Why is it that EVMs in polling booths especially dominated by Dalit communities are malfunctioning. And if they are not working those should be replaced immediately. One machine here was replaced after one and a half hours, some time later that too went bad," said Shaktisinh Gohil, who is contesting from Mandvi.

"I suspect a conspiracy against the Dalit voters by the BJP, who have never supported the Dalit community. But we are confident that despite this, Congress will snatch all the six constituencies this time," Gohil added.

"We are inquiring into complaints of EVMs being connected to Bluetooth or WiFi made from Porbandar," said Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Gujarat, B.B. Swain.

After the polling process began at 8 am, people could be seen stepping out of their houses despite the cold weather and queueing up to cast votes at polling stations.

Even some brides and grooms, clad in the marriage attires, came to polling booths along with their relatives to exercise their franchise before the wedding function. Such voters were seen in Bharuch, Bhabvnagar, Gondal and Surat.

While a majority of the candidates of major parties cast their votes by noon, people are still making a beeline at polling booths in large numbers.

Several important leaders and candidates, including Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, his opponent on Rajkot-West seat Indranil Rajyaguru, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani and Congress MLA of Amreli seat Paresh Dhanani, among others, cast their votes. Cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara also got his finger inked and cast his vote in Rajkot.

A total of 89 seats out of 182 -- spanning the Saurashtra and south Gujarat regions -- are up for grabs in the first phase with 977 candidates in the fray.

Prominent candidates for today's battle include Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who is contesting from Rajkot (West), Congress' Shaktisinh Gohil (Mandvi) and Paresh Dhanani (Amreli).

The election is being viewed as a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of soon-to-be Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. The election is a crucial battleground for the Congress and the BJP before 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

While Modi addressed about 15 rallies, Gandhi spent more than seven days in Saurashtra and south Gujarat, addressing a number of meetings.

with inputs from IANS

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Published: 09 Dec 2017, 7:07 PM