Around 72% turnout in Gujarat assembly by-election
Jasdan (Gujarat) : After a fortnight-long high-octane campaign by the ruling BJP and Congress, the by-election to the Jasdan assembly seat in Gujarat's Saurashtra region went off peacefully with over 72 per cent voters casting their votes on Thursday.
Though election officials were counting the total number of votes cast, officials stated the polling percentage could only be slightly higher, athough it might not match the 73.44 per cent voting in the 2017 state Assembly polls.
The results are expected on Sunday.
"There was a complaint from the Congress against BJP candidate Kunwarji Bawaliya for allegedly threatening voters at a couple of places. We are ascertaining the veracity," Chief Electoral Officer Murli Krishna told IANS.
There was not a single incident of violence or trouble reported from any polling station, Krishna said. He said there were some reports of intimidation of voters. "Police teams were immediately sent which found the reports inconsequential," he said.
Meanwhile, three VVPAT (voter-verified paper audit trail) machines had to be replaced after their batteries got discharged.
He also said the Election Commission closely monitored the social media as well as television channels, including regional channels to ensure there was no provocation.
The by-election was necessitated after five-time Congress legislator Kunwarji Bawaliya resigned as MLA and joined the BJP in July this year, just six months after he won from the seat on a Congress ticket.
Being a senior Koli community leader, Bawaliya was apparently inducted to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani's Cabinet the very day he resigned and joined the ruling party.
The Congress fielded Aksar Nakiya, a grassroots-level taluka panchayat member and once a campaign manager of Bawaliya. He is also a Koli community member.
The Election Commission had set up 262 polling booths to ensure free and fair voting in 103 villages and one town in Jasdan, Vinchhiya and Gondal talukas of Rajkot district.
While 165 of the polling stations were in Jasdan taluka, Vinchhiya and Gondal talukas have 90 and seven, respectively. As many as 1,140 personnel were deployed for election duty.
There were in all 2,32,116 registered voters, 1,21,180 of them are men and 1,09,936 are women.