The Gram Panchayat elections being held in Gujarat on Sunday, December 19, are witnessing an average turnout of 27 per cent. By 1 pm, the turnout was 26 per cent in South Gujarat, 27 per cent in North Gujarat, 32 per cent in Saurashtra and Kutch and 24 per cent in Central Gujarat.
There have been minor and major controversies and clashes at the polls amid tight police security. There have also been complaints of breaches of the code of conduct. Police officials have been placed on patrol round the clock at most sensitive polling centers.
Shivnagar village in Morbi boycotted the election
Usually, at election time, villages in Morbi district see queues for the Gram Panchayat elections. But this time around, the residents of Shivnagar village in Morbi have boycotted the elections. The villagers had earlier demanded for a separate gram panchayat from Panchasar village for development works in the village. They allege that though Shivnagar village has been separated from Panchasar village for about 57 years, they have not been given a gram panchayat yet.
Police beat up a voter in Virpur, Rajkot
A video has surfaced of a policeman punching a voter while carrying a mobile phone to a polling station in the famous pilgrimage site of Virpur in Rajkot district.
Polling was underway on Sunday at more than 23,000 booths for elections to 8,690 village panchayats in Gujarat, with tight security arrangements and COVID-19 protocols in place, officials said. The polls are being seen as a major test for political parties ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections due in December next year. A gram panchayat election is fought by a candidate in his/her personal capacity and not on symbol of any political party. The candidate, however, remains affiliated to one party or another.
On Sunday, voters queued up since 7 am to elect heads of various village panchayats and ward member. The polling will continue till 6 pm. Counting of votes will be held on December 21.
A total of 27,200 candidates are in the fray for the elections of sarpanch and 1,19,998 for panchayat members. However, as many as 1,165 village panchayats and 9,613 wards were declared as “totally uncontested”, where representatives were elected unopposed, as per the Gujarat State Election Commission. Such panchayats are called ‘samras’ in Gujarat.
Besides, 473 sarpanches have been elected in a “partially uncontested” process (where only one candidate for the post of sarpanch was left after the withdrawal of nominations while polls for other seats were being held), it said.
In the gram panchayat polls, each voter is required to cast two votes, one to elect sarpanch and another for electing a panchayat member for his ward.