Gujarat sees enthusiastic voting amid rising complaints against EVMs

Over 30 per cent ballotting was registered till afternoon in Gujarat's first phase Assembly elections, as enthusiastic voters queued up in large numbers amid rising complaints of malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

The Election Commission also received complaints of EVMs being connected to Bluetooth or WiFi from Porbandar.

By noon, over 32 per cent voting was registered. People were coming out in hordes at some places to exercise their constitutional right. 

Complaints against EVMs increased in various regions across the 89 constituencies for which polling is being carried out in the first phase.

The voting percentage was 32 in Amreli, Bhavnagar-33, Kutch-29, Morbi-33, Rajkot-35, Jamnagar-32, Dwarka-27, Porbandar-28 and Gir Somnath- 30 till afternoon.

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?

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.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate from Kutiyana constituency issued a statement that since he was busy with campaigning, if he finds the time then only will he exercise his voting right.

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. 

Senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia had complained that three EVMs were seen connected to Bluetooth devices and he sent the complaint to the ECI along with screen shots backing his complaint.

A total of 977 candidates are in the fray from Kutch, Morbi, Jamnagar, Surendranagar, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Rajkot, Botad, Porbandar, Junagadh, Amreli, Gir Somnath, Bhavnagar, Bharuch, Narmada, Surat, Tapi, Navsari, Dang and Valsad districts.

Of the 89 seats, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party holds 67 and the Congress 16. One seat each is held by the NCP and JD-U while independents hold the remaining two.

Polling, which began at 8 a.m., will end at 5 p.m. 

Of the 2,12,31,652 voters, 1,11,05,933 are males and 1,01,25,472 females while 247 are from the third gender.

The second phase polling is on December 14 and counting, along with that of Himachal Pradesh, will be held on December 18.

-IANS