Times of India | 6 days ago | 25-11-2022 | 08:59 am
A video of B M Sandeep, secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and in-charge of south Gujarat assembly election running through the streets of Mahidharpura surfaced on Thursday. It is claimed that he was running from the election commission’s flying squad that had caught a car carrying Rs 74. 82 lakh. Sandeep has vanished from the city though the election campaign is at its peak. His phone went missing from the spot after which Congress workers submitted an application to the police. Udaysingh Ramkrusna Gurjar, a Congress worker from Rajasthan and driver of the car, Faiz Riyaz Saiyed were nabbed by the team at the spot. They were allowed to go after the cash was handed over to the I-T department for further investigation. AICC general secretary, Mukul Wasnik, said, “Why was no case registered? Our leaders will give details of cash to the concerned department. This is an attempt to target the Congress when no wrong has been done. ”
A little over a year after it changed the entire Gujarat Cabinet, the BJP will go to polls in the first phase of the Assembly elections on Thursday as it attempts to return to power for the sixth straight term.Around 2.39 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to elect MLAs in 89 constituencies in Saurashtra, Kutch, and south Gujarat, with the BJP looking to regain the ground it lost in Saurashtra in the 2017 Assembly elections. For the ruling party, the main competition will come from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress. The electoral contest between the BJP and the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit will be especially intense in Surat. Both camps aggressively campaigned against each other in an attempt to bag the 12 seats in the city.In 2017, of the 89 constituencies, the BJP won 48 and the Congress bagged 38 seats. Two seats went to the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), which was in alliance with the Congress at the time, and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) won one.In Saurashtra, the agrarian region with 48 seats, the challenge for the BJP is to increase its tally from the 19 constituencies it managed to win last time, while the Congress will look to hold on to the gains it made five years ago and build on their success. The Congress’s seat count of 28 in Saurashtra in 2017 was a gain of 13 seats, while the BJP’s tally came down by 11 seats. It was the ruling party’s worst performance in Saurashtra since 1995 when it formed the government in Gujarat for the first time.But in the last five years, 10 Congress MLAs from Saurashtra defected to the BJP or extended support to the ruling party. They are Kunvarji Bavaliya (Jasdan), Parsottam Sabariya (Dhrangadhra), Jawahar Chavda (Manavadar), Vallabh Dharaviya (Jamnagar Rural), Pravin Maru (Gadhada), JV Kakadiya (Dhari), Soma Ganda Patel (Limbdi), Brijesh Merja (Morbi), Bhagwan Barad (Talala), and Harshad Ribadiya (Visavadar). Save Sabariya, Dharaviya, Maru, Patel, and Merja, the others are BJP candidates this time from their respective seats.The Congress’s Saurashtra performance in 2017 was propelled by support from the Patidar community, which had been traditional BJP supporters since the mid-1980s. But the community drifted towards the Congress five years ago following protests against the BJP-led government over demands for Other Backward Class (OBC) status. The quota agitation stir’s leader Hardik Patel is the BJP candidate from Viramgam in Ahmedabad district this time. Pointing out that the quota agitation has long fizzled out, BJP leaders have claimed that Patidars will back the ruling party this time around.The first phase covers several Patidar and tribal-dominated seats and will be crucial for the ruling party’s stated objective of breaking all Assembly election records. Among the BJP’s objectives is winning most of the 27 constituencies reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs). In Phase 1, seven of the constituencies at stake are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) communities and 17 are ST seats.For the BJP, a stumbling block in the run-up to the elections was ticket distribution. In the first phase, seven BJP members filed nominations against the party’s candidates, most of them as Independents and one each as Congress and AAP nominees.Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading the BJP’s campaign and has addressed 25 public meetings since November 3, when the Elections Commission notified the poll schedule. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has been the second-most prominent face to campaign for the party. The party has also deployed a battery of national leaders such as chief ministers Yogi Adityanath, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Pramod Sawant, Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and its national president JP Nadda.The BJP aggressively played up the Hindutva card by raking up issues such as the 2002 riots, terrorism, “love jihad”, and the Shraddha Walkar murder case. In its poll manifesto, the ruling party promised an anti-radicalisation cell and the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code.The AAP ran an aggressive campaign, especially in Saurashtra and south Gujarat. The electoral plank of the Kejriwal-led party is based on its guarantees such as free education, free electricity, employment, and free religious pilgrimages for the elderly.On Wednesday, Kejriwal issued a video message requesting the people of Gujarat to opt for change. Speaking in Gujarati Kejriwal, who began with the common greeting in Gujarat, “Jai Shri Krishna”, said, “Twenty-seven years are a lot, no? This time try to change. Change is the rule of life. Even trees change their leaves every year. Give AAP one chance. I will never break your trust. Now, the atmosphere is also changing, cold is also increasing. Take care of everyone in the family. Jai Shree Krishna!”The Congress too has promised voters things such as free electricity, implementation of the old pension scheme, and jobs. Its campaign, however, was low-key, with some of its top national leaders largely staying away from the campaign.In six assembly constituencies, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) led by Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi has fielded candidates. These seats are Mangrol, Khambhalia, Bhuj, Mandvi, Surat East, and Limbayat.Notable names in the frayThere are a total of 788 candidates in the fray in Phase 1, including 718 men and 70 women. Some of the notable BJP candidates who will be battling it out on Thursday are Kanti Amrutiya (Morbi), Kunvarji Bavaliya (Jasdan), Jayesh Radadiya (Jetpur), Rivaba Jadeja (Jamnagar North), Pabubha Manek (Dwarka), Babu Bokhiriya (Porbandar), Parshottam Solanki, Mukesh Patel (Olpad), Harsh Sanghavi (Majura), Jitu Vaghani (Bhavnagar West), and Raghavji Patel (Jamnagar Rural).The first phase will also see the fate of some top AAP leaders being decided. Among them are its CM face Isudan Gadhvi (Khambhalia), state president Gopal Italia (Katargam), and former Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leaders Alpesh Kathiriya (Varachha) and Dharmik Malaviya (Olpad).From the Congress, leaders such as Naushad Solanki (Dasada), Lalit Kagathara (Tankara), Indranil Rajyaguru (Rajkot East), Vikram Madam (Khambhalia), Arjun Modhwadiya (Porbandar), Punja Vansh (Una), Paresh Dhanani, Virji Thummar (Lathi), Ambarish Der (Rajula), Kanu Kalsariya (Mahuva), and Anant Patel (Vansda) will be contesting in the first phase.New initiativesThis is the first election where a section of the electorate will have a chance to vote from home. This facility has been made available to 9.87 lakh voters above the age of 80 years and 4.03 lakh voters with disabilities. The Election Commission (EC) distributed around eight lakh forms for voters to avail of this facility but only over two per cent of voters have opted for it.The other initiative is monitoring workers in industries if they have cast their votes or not. The EC has already signed MoUs with various industrial associations for this and asked them to give a holiday or a break to workers on polling day.“We have already conveyed the message to our sister associations for giving workers a break or holiday for polling. Though we cannot force workers to vote, all industrial units have also been asked to monitor the number of workers and share whatever figures possible with us so that we have at least an estimate,” said Pathik Patwari, president of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).This is also the first election in the state where details of criminal cases faced by candidates needed to be published in newspapers.With inputs from Avinash Nair and Rashi Mishra in Ahmedabad
SURAT: At a time when disputes between siblings or between a father and a child have become a common occurrence, this family of 81 members is a unique example of unity, harmony and bonding. More importantly, their zeal to exercise their franchise together. The Solanki family in Kamrej wants to give a message how important it is to participate in the election process. The eldest voter in the family is 82-year-old Shamjibhai and the youngest ones are 18-year-old Parth and Vedant who are first-time voters. Live updates: Gujarat assembly elections phase 1The Solanki family will go to Navagam polling booth in multiple vehicles to cast their votes on Thursday. Of the 81 members, 60 are registered voters. "At the age of 82, my father is very enthusiastic about voting and inspires us all to vote," said Nandlal, son of Shamjibhai. 'We want to encourage others to take part in polls' We jointly participate in voting with enthusiasm the way we participate in a marriage function in the family. Through this, we want to encourage others to participate in elections," said Ghanshyam, one of the 17 brothers. In 1985, one of six brothers, Lalji Solanki, a blacksmith by profession from Lakhiyani of Botad, came to the city and settled in Kamrej. He, along with his brothers, started making agricultural equipment and gradually the family grew. Currently, the family's size is 96 of whom 15 live in a village while 81 live in Kamrej. "We now run a manufacturing unit of farming equipment and have developed a brand called Jyoti. The family jointly runs the business," said Pradip, a brother. Read AlsoGujarat election campaigns: PM Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal carpet-bomb, cameo from Rahul GandhiAs the implacable hostilities of campaigning for the first phase of Gujarat election ended on Tuesday, the analysis of star campaigners indicated the BJP and the AAP relied on their most known faces — PM Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal. PM Modi helmed 23 rallies and roadshows, and Kejriwal 19."Most of the members live in a joint family, and it has its advantages. We share responsibilities hence everyone gets some free time," said Nirali, a woman from the family. The home they live in has a huge hall that allows them to assemble in one place for family functions. As the family is growing, they are facing space issues when a son gets married. Read AlsoGujarat polls 2022: Fertile for Congress; BJP vote machine aims to pluck seatsThe candidates in South Gujarat did not just fear the backlash from angry villagers when they visited tribal areas. What scared them more were the mobile phones that tech-savvy tribals wielded with great efficacy to scuttle campaigning."The majority of the members live in the same home where they grew up while young members are going to live in separate houses after marriage,'' said Ghanshyam. "The family unanimously decided to vote together to make a strong nation. We will not go by caste or any other illusions," said Bhavesh, another brother.
The Election Commission will conduct live monitoring of 13,065 polling booths in 19 districts that go to poll on Thursday. The election commission will keep an eye on voting through the special control room, which has been set for monitoring. As many as 163 NRI voters will vote on 89 seats in Phase I. Of these voters, 125 voters are males while 38 are females, stated the Election Commission. The EC has stated that the voting for Phase I will be held at 25,430 booths, and it will keep a watch from 6am before voting begins. The chief electoral officer has appointed six senior officials to oversee the webcasting at 13,065 booths. The voting will be held from 8am to 5pm. The EC stated persons with disability would handle 89 polling booths and over 600 booths will have all women staff.
Election Commission has declared 95% of the booths in Surat city’s Varachha and Karanj constituencies as sensitive. Out of 4,637 polling booths in Surat, 41% have been declared sensitive. EC classifies a polling booth as sensitive if it has reported incidents of criminal offences like booth capturing in the past.Polling in Surat will take place today amid strong presence of paramilitary forces and will decide the fates of AAP Patidar candidates Gopal Italia and Alpesh Kathiria.Out of 199 polling stations in Varachha, 193 have been declared as sensitive. In Karanj, out of 176 polling stations, 168 have been declared sensitive.In Kamrej, 383 out of 520 polling stations are sensitive. In Surat North and Katargam, about one-third of the polling booths are sensitive.During the 2017 Assembly elections, the effect of Patidar reservation agitation led to minor untoward incidents in the Patidar-dominated seats of Surat, including Varachha and Karanj.
As the state votes for phase-1 of the polls on Thursday, the state police are on high alert. However, for some reason three high ranking IPS officials, one each in Saurashtra, Bharuch and Kutch, have been rushed at the last moment. While police said that these officers have been posted for overseeing law and order, a whopping number of security personnel – about 1,230 for each of the 89 constituencies – have already been posted there for the first phase.Top officials said that they have deployed about 109,500 personnel and officials in Saurashtra, Kutch and South Gujarat to ensure smooth and peaceful elections. Quick Reaction Teams (QRT), mobile police patrolling, ancillary parties such the Sector Mobiles have also been deployed in the poll-bound areas. “Apart from 32,000 strong police force in the two cities of Surat and Rajkot and about 20 districts the will see voting for phase -1 on Thursday, 42,000 jawans of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF), 500 jawans of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) and 35,000 Home Guard jawans have been deployed for poll duty.Meanwhile, top police sources said that IGP (ATS) Amitkumar Vishwakarma has been sent to Saurashtra, IGP Subhas Trivedi is camping in Bharuch and IGP G L Singhal has been deployed in Kutch region. Several high ranking state IB officials also have been dispatched to different places where the elections are scheduled for Thursday.Meanwhile, to ensure that liquor is not sold or distributed in the state during the election period, Gujarat police have registered about 34,000 cases under the Prohibition Act, and seized over Rs 20 crore worth of liquor. Some 3.27 lakh persons, seen as potential threats to peaceful conduct of elections, have been detained under the precautionary Act. Under the NDPS Act, 1,477 kg drugs worth over Rs 61.95 crore have been seized.Live webcast from 13,065 booths in 1st phaseLive webcast of more than 50% polling stations in the state will be done to keep a close eye on the voting process in the first phase of polling on December 1. In the first phase, 19 districts in Kutch, Saurashtra and South Gujarat region will see voting on Thursday. Live webcast of the operations at 13,065 polling stations will be done. As per the instructions of the Election Commission of India (ECI), voting will be held in 25,430 polling stations in the first phase, of which 13,065 will be webcasted live. A state-level monitoring room has been set up by the office of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) at Vidya Samiksha Centre in Sector-19 in Gandhinagar from where all 13,065 polling stations will be closely monitored. As many as 42 staff/officers in the monitoring room will continuously monitor the polling webcast from the time voting begins at 8.00 am.