45 percent voter turnout in Gujarat civic polls

Though no untoward incident was reported during voting, several voters complained that they were deprived of casting vote as their names did not figure in the list.

PTI| Updated: Nov 22, 2015, 23:42 PM IST
45 percent voter turnout in Gujarat civic polls
File photo

Ahmedabad: Around 45 percent turnout was registered on Sunday in polling held for 568 seats across six municipal corporations even as scores of voters, mainly from Patel community, could not exercise their franchise as they did not find their names in the final list prepared by State Election Commission.

Though no untoward incident was reported during voting, several voters complained that they were deprived of casting vote as their names did not figure in the list.

The elections are considered to be a litmus test for Anandiben Patel government of BJP against the backdrop of violent stir by Patel community members for quota, while the Congress is looking forward to spin the resentment in their favour.

Voting began at 8 AM and lasted till 5 PM in municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar---all currently held by the BJP.

As per the tentative figures released by the State Election Commission (SEC), out of total 95.9 lakh registered voters, around 45 per cent voters cast their votes though final figures are yet to be arrived at.

Prominent among voters were BJP patriarch L K Advani, Chief Minister Patel and BJP chief Amit Shah as they all are registered voters of different parts of city.

Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also a registered voter from Ranip area of the city, he could not come due to his ongoing tour of Malaysia for ASEAN summit.

Meanwhile, the chief minister expressed confidence that her party will emerge victorious.

"We are going to win the elections. After casting my vote, I am going to Saurashtra region for campaigning for district panchayats polls," Patel told reporters after casting her vote at Shilaj area here in morning.

Advani, who had raised a banner of revolt against the Prime Minister after the Bihar poll debacle, praised the NDA government after casting his vote.

"I believe that the whole system takes it's own time. Since the government is going in the right direction, I believe that the results will also be good," Advani said in reply to a question whether Modi government has failed to fulfil it's promise of bringing 'Acche Din', especially in the wake of recent price rise in pulses.

Patel community members held protests in various parts of the city, especially in the CM's Ghatlodia area, saying names of many of them were deleted by the SEC from the final voting list, which the opposition Congress alleged was done at the behest of the BJP.

Congress also demanded immediate action against election officers over the goof-up.

Counting of votes will take place on December 2.Several voters, including a former BJP MLA from city

Geeta Patel, whose names were found to be deleted, rushed to the office of the Ahmedabad district collector and demanded action.

Patel complained to collector Rajkumar Beniwal saying her name was struck out overnight without any prior notice.

There were several others, mainly from Patel community, who made similar representation.

The Congress alleged that thousands of voters in Ahmedabad, and perhaps lakhs in the municipal corporations spread across the state, failed to exercise their franchise as their names have been deleted purposefully at the last moment by the SEC.

According to state unit Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki, around 1,000 to 4,000 names in each of the 48 wards of Ahmedabad have been deleted from the final electoral rolls by the SEC without informing the voters or candidates.

"We learned that around 1,000 to 4,000 names in each ward were deleted from the final list in the city. Not just city, it has happened across the state today. When we have raised this issue with election officials, they refused to give any answer," Solanki told reporters at a press conference.

He claimed that majority of the voters, whose names were deleted, belonged to Patel community.

"Since this community has turned against BJP (after quota agitation), the SEC has deleted these anti-BJP voters across the city as well as state to help the BJP," the Congress leader said.

However, the BJP refuted the allegations saying that Election Commission is an independent body and that the BJP party and state government had no role in preparation of voters list.

As many as 806 people cast their votes online, highest being in Vadodara where 305 people used this facility made available by the SEC.

However, former BJP chief minister Keshubhai Patel failed to cast his vote through online platform and travelled all the way to Rajkot from Gandhinagar to exercise his franchise.