68 pc voting in phase-1 of Gujarat polls: EC

68 pc voting in phase-1 of Gujarat polls: EC

Ahead of the crucial first phase of voting for Gujarat Assembly elections 2017, the Election Commission (EC) on Friday assured that it has taken a slew of measures to prevent tampering with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). An inquiry was conducted and the report submitted by the District Election Officer (DEO) is that a polling agent was carrying a mobile phone of Intex company, bearing model number ECO 105, he said.

Experts say a fall in turnout might point to discontentment with the current government, but the feeling may not be strong enough to spur many into voting for the rival Congress. About 0.37 per cent out of the 26,865 ballot units and 0.38 per cent out of the 24,689 control unit have also been replaced.

Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti, however, played down the significance of EVMs malfunctioning.

The chief electoral officer in Gujarat BB Swain came on record to give the status on the complaint filed by Congress in Porbandar about the Bluetooth-operated EVMs.

Some reports suggest that the deadline of voting in various constituencies has been extended till 10 pm due to EMV malfunctioning.

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.

The Election Commission had on Saturday estimated a voter turnout of 68% but the final numbers are 1.25 percentage points lower at 66.75%-much lower than the 71.32% voter turnout in the 2012 Gujarat elections.

The maximum fall - between 5 and 12 percentage points - was reported from rural areas dominated by Patidars, who are seen as key to the opposition Congress's efforts to wrest power from the Bharatiya Janata Party that has ruled Gujarat for 22 years. The others are held by smaller parties and Independents. The 89 seats that went to polls on Saturday are in Saurashtra, Kutch and South Gujarat.

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. For the last two days, suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's "neech" slur against Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dominated the campaign.

The second phase of voting in the rest of the state will be held on Dec.14, The results will be declared on December 18.



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