Virus threat masks voting zest in Guj civic polls

AHMEDABAD: The coronavirus pandemic and absence of any touchy issues cast a dark shadow on the elections to the six municipal corporations, with the majority of people preferring to cool their heels at home on a Sunday rather than going to the polling booths.

The average turnout in the six cities – Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar was around 43.57% – around five per cent less compared to 2015 Jamnagar clocked the highest turnout of nearly 52.49%, but that too was less compared to 2015 polls.
BJP has been ruling all six municipal corporations.
Surat was the only corporation among the six that crossed the 2015 turnout, the voting being the highest ever after 2005. Among those who encouraged others to vote were youth and first-time voters, senior citizens, physically challenged and seriously ill as well. A group of young boys and girls from Jain community reached a polling booth in Pal area of the city, wearing traditional clothes of worship.
While Ahmedabad registered its lowest turnout since 2010, voting in chief minister Vijay Rupani’s hometown Rajkot, with 50.75%, was marginally more than 2015. But Rupani flew to Rajkot from UN Mehta Hospital in Ahmedabad after testing negative for Covid-19 and voted in the special booth for Covid patients.
In Ahmedabad, union home minister Amit Shah voted along with his family members in Naranpura.
BJP and Congress, the two main contesting political parties, were hoping to witness queues as the day progressed but much to their disappointment, voters came in a trickle at most polling booths across the state.
Smooth process overall amid corona
The voting remained peaceful in all six cities, barring stray skirmishes at few places and technical snags with the EVMs.
Commenting on the lower turnout, M V Joshi, secretary, State Election Commission (SEC), said despite pandemic, voting has been satisfactory. “After final validation of data, we hope the turnout will increase compared to 2015.”
State election commissioner Sanjay Prasad expressed satisfaction over conduct of polls, stating that no major violence was reported from any of the cities.
State BJP president CR Paatil said the voting trend is in favour of the BJP. “We will not fail the people, who have shown faith in the party. I want to thank all voters for their support to the party,” he said.
Amit Chavda, state Congress president said, “There has been less voting in areas which are BJP strongholds. The low voting percentage reflects resentment against the BJP among voters,” he said.

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