Voting for panchayats and municipalities begin in Gujarat

Tight security arrangements have been made for smooth and peaceful conduct of elections in 24 district panchayats, 208 block panchayats and 53 municipalities.

Last Updated: Oct 21, 2010, 14:17 PM IST

Ahmedabad: Polling began for the Gujarat panchayat and municipality elections on Thursday amidst tight security, with over 10 percent of the voters exercising their franchise in the first few hours.

Tight security arrangements have been made for smooth and peaceful conduct of elections in 24 district panchayats, 208 block panchayats and 53 municipalities.

According to the State Election Commission (SEC) officials, an average of 10 percent voting was recorded in the first few hours.

There are a total of 4,875 seats for the district and block panchayats polls while 1890 seats for municipalities.

2,074 candidates are in fray for district panchayats, 10,489 candidates for block panchayats and 5372 candidates for municipality polls.

Out of the total 25,710 booths, the SEC has declared 2556 booths as very sensitive.

Both the Congress and BJP have high stakes in the panchayat polls.

The BJP is upbeat after its clean sweep in the Municipal Corporation polls where it won on all six Corporations.

On the other hand, the Congress is trying hard to save face after its humiliating defeat in the civic body polls and in its bid to gain lost ground, the state Congress had roped in heavyweights to campaign for Panchayat polls.

National leaders like Subodhkant Sahay, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia and state Congress incharge Sudhakar Reddy were called to campaign along with state leaders.

Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, keen on defeating Congress, had himself campaigned extensively for the BJP in various parts of the state.

However, the BJP had not called in its national leaders to campaign for the party here. Only local leaders led by Modi and state leaders campaigned.

Out of 25 district panchayats, Congress had won in six in the last elections. The party had won about 20 block panchayats out of 208 while out of 53 municipalities, it won in six.

PTI