Gujarat civic polls 2021: Voter turnout at 41.20%; development will win, vows Amit Shah
Gujarat civic polls 2021: The main contest is between the BJP, which has ruled the six corporations for last several terms, and the Opposition Congress. The AAP is pitching itself as an alternative, while AIMIM is making its debut in the polls
Voting for 575 seats in six municipal corporations of Gujarat, seen as a semi-final ahead of next year's state Assembly elections for the Vijay Rupani-led BJP government, drew to a quiet close on Sunday amid tight security and strict adherence to COVID-19 norms.
Of the 1.14 crore registered voters in eight municipal corporations in Gujarat, 47.25 lakh turned up, giving the overall voting of 41.20 percent, as per The Times of India.
City-wise voting percentages are: 49.6 percent for Jamnagar, 45.4 percent for Rajkot, 43.7 percent for Bhavnagar, 42.8 percent for Vadodara, 42.1 percent for Surat, and 37.8 percent for Ahmedabad, as per the report.
Chief minister Vijay Rupani cast his vote in the polls just hours after testing negative for COVID-19 and being discharged from hospital. He voted in Rajkot, as per The Times of India.
— ANI (@ANI) February 21, 2021
Votes for the polls will be counted on 23 February (Tuesday).
The main contest is between the BJP, which has ruled the six corporations for last several terms, and the main Opposition Congress. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has claimed it would be an effective alternative to the BJP and Congress, while Asaduddin Owaisi's All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is making its debut in the local bodies polls, having fielded 21 candidates in six wards of Ahmedabad.
People started queuing up outside polling booths soon after the voting began at 7 am across various wards with elderly voters being seen at booths with precautions being taken to follow COVID-19 prevention norms including use of masks and sanitisers and social distancing.
A slew of top BJP leaders including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP MP Kirit, and party MLA Rakesh Shah Gujarat party chief CR Paatil, cast their votes through the day.
Shah, casting his ballot for elections to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation at a polling booth in Naranpura sub-divisional office along with his family members, expressed confidence at the BJP's chances.
Gujarat local body polls: Union Home Minister Amit Shah along with his family members casts his vote at Naranpura Sub Zonal Office in Ahmedabad pic.twitter.com/YlgnCji7Lf
— ANI (@ANI) February 21, 2021
After casting his vote, the senior BJP leader and his family also offered prayers at the nearby Kamnath Mahadev temple. "The BJP has emerged victorious across the country under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I am sure that Gujarat, from where the BJP's victory journey started, will again establish itself as a stronghold of the BJP," Shah said.
अहमदाबाद में अमित शाह (@AmitShah) ने किया मतदान, कहा, "सरकार सबके विकास के लिए काम कर रही है. गुजरात में विकास यात्रा जारी है."#GujaratMunicipalElection2021 #GujaratLocalBodyElection #BJP #Ahmedabad #ATVideo pic.twitter.com/Aqlc6wlV88 — AajTak (@aajtak) February 21, 2021
He added that the development journey started by the BJP under Modi's leadership continues across the country, and many states have taken inspiration from it. "I am sure that voters will turn out in large numbers and development will win," he added.
Tight security arrangements were made at the polling booth where Shah and his family members cast their vote, while Solanki voted at a booth in Ahmedabad's Ranip area.
Gujarat BJP chief Patil, tweeting a photo of himself earlier on Sunday, appealed to the public to cast their votes:
આજે લોકશાહીનાં ગૌરવનો દિવસ છે. મેં મતદાન કર્યું.
આપ સૌ નાગરિકોને પણ અપીલ કરું છું કે -આપનાં મતાધિકારનો ઉપયોગ કરી, મોટી સંખ્યામાં મતદાન થાય એનો સફળ પ્રયાસ કરીએ.
— C R Paatil (@CRPaatil) February 21, 2021
Members of the Rajkot royal family, Mandhatasinh Jadeja and Kadambari Devi Jadeja, caught the eye when they arrived to vote in a vintage car:
Gujarat local body polls: Royal family members Mandhatasinh Jadeja and Kadambari Devi Jadeja arrived in a vintage car to cast their vote in Rajkot, earlier today pic.twitter.com/ovIAXZ1wfp — ANI (@ANI) February 21, 2021
Towards the latter half of the day, a scuffle over an EVM broke out at a polling booth of the Asarva Vidyalaya in Ahmedabad, News18 Gujarat reported. "Voting had to be stopped for 10 minutes. A police convoy reached the spot and settled the matter," the report added.
Around 32,000 policemen have been deployed for voting in 575 seats, with each ward having four corporators, officials said. A total of 2,276 candidates are contesting the polls in the six municipal corporations. Besides, nine candidates are also in the fray for by-elections to two seats in the Junagadh Municipal Corporation.
Those contesting include 577 from the BJP, 566 from the Congress, 470 from the AAP, 91 from the NCP, 353 from other parties and 228 Independents, the officials said. As per the State Election Commission, there are a total of 1.14 crore voters, including 60.60 lakh men and 54.06 lakh women.
Of the 11,121 polling booths, 2,255 are marked sensitive and 1,188 have been designated as very sensitive. On 28 February, elections to 31 district and 231 taluka panchayats and 81 municipalities will also be held in the state.
With inputs from PTI
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