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September 21, 2001 - September 21, 2001

Disillusioned voters stay home Friday, September 21, 2001

By Deepal Trevedie, AsianAge Online
Ahmedabad, Sept. 20: The Gujarat electorate made its disillusionment with politics vivid on Thursday with a dismal voter turnout for the Sabarkantha and Sabarmati by elections.

While the Sabarkantha Lok Sabha constituency recorded about 40 per cent turnout which is over 20 per cent less than last elections, Sabarmati Vidhan Sabha constituency reported only about 33 per cent voter turnout which is about 27 per cent less than last elections. Counting of votes will take place on Saturday and till then both the major parties, the BJP and the Congress, will play guessing games.

Repolling has been ordered at two booths in Sabarkantha. In a customary cliched style, the Opposition Congress has alleged that the ruling BJP rigged the polls. The despondent response of voters in both these constituencies has proved that though the voters find that the ruling BJP has failed in fulfilling their aspirations; they do not seem to view the Congress as an option.

Though some political analysts are hopeful that the low turnout could mean voters’ disillusionment with the BJP and Congress and signals a strong vacuum that could be filled up by a third force, it seems too far fetched. Barring reports of skirmishes and tension in Sabarkantha, where the BJP and the Congress clashed with each other and the BJP workers allegedly set a Muslim’s house on fire, no untoward incidents were reported.

It’s going to be a very close fight between the BJP and the Congress in both the constituencies and there has been no clear indications outlining any particular party or candidate’s edge over their rivals.

“It’s very difficult to determine who has an edge over whom. It has been a very close fight and we can’t do anything but keep guessing,” former chief minister and Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela candidly admitted even as both Congress and BJP leaders, ranging from chief minister Keshubhai Patel to state Congress president Amarsinh Chaudhary, issued customary pressnotes making exaggerated claims of their prospective victories.

Keshubhai said he was sure the Congress would be turned down by the people and Amarsinh said the BJP would get a tough slap on its scam-tainted face. Sabarkantha constituency faced a by election following the death of state Congress president Amarsinh Chaudhary’s wife Nisha Gamit and Sabarmati constituency faced a by election following the resignation of BJP MLA Yatin Oza, who could not bridge his differences with his party.

Sabarkantha has BJP’s Upendra Trivedi fighting out with Congress’ Madhusudan Mistry. Congress leaders Shankarsinh Vaghela, Madhavsinh Solanki and Ahmed Patel, besides late Nisha Gamit’s husband Amarsinh Chaudhary worked hard to ensure that Congress retains the Sabarkantha seat.

But the fact that voters’ turnout in Danta and Khedbrahma has not been more than 35 and 33 per cent has perplexed the Congress which till now considered Sabarkantha a very safe seat. Danta and Khedbrahma have over 2.5 lakh Muslim and Adivasi votes, which are considered to be traditional Congress vote bank. The low voters’ turnout in Sabarkantha will directly affect the Congress.

Similarly, the low voter turnout in Sabarmati Vidhan Sabha constituency in Ahmedabad where Patels and Jains play a decisive role is likely to affect the BJP. However, political analysts rightly point out that in Sabarmati, Narhari Amin has been fighting a lonely battle for no one from the Shankarsinh Vaghela group, Ahmed Patel group or the Madhavsinh Solanki group has really helped Narhari Amin, who belongs to the JD (G) group.

Ahmed Patel loyalist Shaktisinh Gohil denies this vehemently and says the Congress has worked very unitedly to cash in on the people’s disillusionment with the BJP. “If the Congress wins in Sabarmati, it will be a personal victory for Narhari and the party cannot claim any credit for it hasn’t done anything concrete,” a JD (G) camp source said.

“The BJP and Congress are both the same,” Bharat Vekariya, a Patel owning an electric appliances shop in Naranpura said. Last elections, Bharat voted for the BJP. This time he simply sat home because he does not find Congress any better than the BJP.

Meanwhile, as politicians continued to play guessing games, it is apparent that the depressing voter turnout has nose-dived the confidence of the BJP and the Congress, who were frantically trying to gauge public opinion on the poll victory.

“We are utterly baffled at this point and cannot really comment on who will win and who will lose. This has been an election where we are not able to gauge anything concrete,” a former Congress minister said. Meanwhile, it could be interesting to note that the bookies betting on elections last night brought both Congress’ Narhari Amin and BJP’s Babubhai Jamnadas Patel at par. While Narhari had earlier been surging ahead of BJP, his price crashed down last night.

News Source : The AsianAge [ The coolest newspaper for city ]


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Poll frenzy as dry as Sabarmati in city Friday, September 21, 2001

By Tushar Prabhune, AsianAge
Ahmedabad, Sept. 20: A virtual lack of enthusiasm among people during the Sabarmati Legislative Assembly by-elections held on Thursday was evident from meagre 33 per cent turn out. Only 10 per cent voting was reported in the constituency between 8.00 am to 10.00 am that increased to a 12 per cent till 12.00 noon. Till 4.00 pm the percentage of voting stood at 29.14.

According to the returning officer on election duty DM Virani, no untoward incidents like booth capturing or bogus voting were reported and the polling in all 322 sensitive booths was completed peacefully.

Even as voting began at 8.00 am, many polling booths in Sabarmati ward wore a deserted look till afternoon with people coming in ones and twos. However, many booths in the Naranpura and Wadaj wards witnessed more voting with people flocking in since 8.00 am.

Also, a strict checking of identity cards of the voters was maintained at all the polling booths and the voting took place amid heavy police bandobast. One police inspector was posted at all the poling booths, while State Reserve Police and Rapid Action Force were deployed to ensure free and fair voting.

Election identity cards ration cards, driving license, passport and 28 different documents that prove the identity of the voter were allowed for voting. Many voters in different wards had to return without casting their vote when the election officers and the police insisted on identity cards and incidents of petty arguments with the presiding officers were reported from many areas.

Meanwhile, unruly scenes were witnessed at the Vijaynagar School in Naranpura ward when Congress MLA from Jodiya, Raghavaji Patel and corporator of the area, Nitin Patel exchanged blows. According to sources, the trouble started when some BJP workers entered the school premises with the Tri-colour flag.

The Congress workers present at the polling booth took a strong objection to this and complained to the police that the BJP workers had entered the school premises without the identity cards issued to the polling agents. This resulted in a severe verbal combat between the workers of both the parties.

Also, BJP candidate, Babu Patel got a taste of stringent checking norms when he was on his round in Naranpura. The officer on election duty was deputed from Surat and apparently did not recognise the candidate. Mr Patel was not wearing any identification card and therefore, the officer, G.S Parmar stopped him from entering the polling booth in the R.B. High School.

Mr Patel’s supporters packed in about 10 cars following him, at once created uproar and while the officer realised his mistake and quickly relented. He also explained that only one person along with the candidate is allowed to enter the premises. Finally, the supporters moved to a distance of 100 mts away from the booth and Mr Patel with one supporter went in to check out the happenings in the booth.

News Source : The AsianAge [ The coolest newspaper for city ]


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Sabarkantha :: Re-polling ordered at 2 booths in Danta, 40 per cent turnout Friday, September 21, 2001

By a Correspondent, AsianAge Online
Himmatnagar, Sept. 20: Stray incidents of violence marked the Sabarkantha by-polls on Thursday with BJP reportedly indulging in bogus voting and booth capturing. Re-polling has been ordered in two booths at the Kumbharia village in Danta taluka.

An estimated 40 per cent polling was reported in Sabarkantha. The Election Commission is yet to give exact figures. In Himmatnagar, Congress and BJP workers clashed with each other. BJP workers attacked Congress workers and according to police, four injured Congress workers have been admitted to Himmatnagar government hospital.

The turn out in rural areas was higher than the urban areas and that threw the BJP camp in a jittery. The BJP’s traditional vote bank comprising the middle class urban population stayed away from voting, which made the Congress confident of its win.

Congress Rajya Sabha MP Raju Parmar said, “We definitely have an advantage over the BJP due to the voting pattern.” BJP media cell in-charge Jitu Purohit remarked, “The pattern of voting suggests that the results might be against the BJP as rural Adivasi and Muslim population, which is the traditional vote bank of the Congress, have voted in large numbers.”

Several voters abstained from casting their votes, as it was compulsory to prove one’s identity using voter’s identity card or driving license. Those who failed to do so were sent back from polling booths. Polling officer in one of the booths at Himmatnagar town Sirish Shukla said,

“We had to send back many voters as they did not have proper identification papers.” Reports of fights were also received at the election office from Adivasi areas due to identification paper problems, he said.

Two incidents of booth capturing were reported from Kumbharia village of Data taluka. As per the state Election Commission, booth numbers 121 and 121-A were captured by a group of people. The Election Commission has suspended voting in both the booths. Re-polling for the same will be held on September 21, election commission official said.

Incidents of violence were also reported from Himmatnagar town. Groups of Congress and BJP workers clashed with each other. Three BJP workers and two Congress workers were injured in the incidents. The market of Himmatnagar immediately closed down after the incident and police was deployed to bring the situation under control.

BJP leaders like finance minister Vaju Vala, Union minister of state for heavy industries Dr Vallabh Kathiria, BJP general secretary Vijay Rupani and others monitored the work of BJP party, while Congress leaders Shankarsinh Vaghela and chief whip of Congress in Legislative Assembly Naresh Rawal monitored their party work during the by-polls.

BJP candidate Upendra Trivedi cast his vote at a primary school in Kukdia village of Idar taluka. Vice president of the Gujarat State Youth Congress Gopalsinh Rathod cast his vote at Himmatnagar. The polling was lackluster throughtout the day. Scorching heat also had its affect on the low turnout of people during the polls.

News Source : The AsianAge [ The coolest newspaper for city ]


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Sabarkantha :: Re-polling ordered at 2 booths in Danta Friday, September 21, 2001

By a Correspondent, AsianAge Online
Himmatnagar, Sept. 20: Stray incidents of violence marked the Sabarkantha by-polls on Thursday with BJP reportedly indulging in bogus voting and booth capturing. Re-polling has been ordered in two booths at the Kumbharia village in Danta taluka.

An estimated 40 per cent polling was reported in Sabarkantha. The Election Commission is yet to give exact figures. In Himmatnagar, Congress and BJP workers clashed with each other. BJP workers attacked Congress workers and according to police, four injured Congress workers have been admitted to Himmatnagar government hospital.

The turn out in rural areas was higher than the urban areas and that threw the BJP camp in a jittery. The BJP’s traditional vote bank comprising the middle class urban population stayed away from voting, which made the Congress confident of its win.

Congress Rajya Sabha MP Raju Parmar said, “We definitely have an advantage over the BJP due to the voting pattern.” BJP media cell in-charge Jitu Purohit remarked, “The pattern of voting suggests that the results might be against the BJP as rural Adivasi and Muslim population, which is the traditional vote bank of the Congress, have voted in large numbers.”

Several voters abstained from casting their votes, as it was compulsory to prove one’s identity using voter’s identity card or driving license. Those who failed to do so were sent back from polling booths. Polling officer in one of the booths at Himmatnagar town Sirish Shukla said,

“We had to send back many voters as they did not have proper identification papers.” Reports of fights were also received at the election office from Adivasi areas due to identification paper problems, he said.

Two incidents of booth capturing were reported from Kumbharia village of Data taluka. As per the state Election Commission, booth numbers 121 and 121-A were captured by a group of people. The Election Commission has suspended voting in both the booths. Re-polling for the same will be held on September 21, election commission official said.

Incidents of violence were also reported from Himmatnagar town. Groups of Congress and BJP workers clashed with each other. Three BJP workers and two Congress workers were injured in the incidents. The market of Himmatnagar immediately closed down after the incident and police was deployed to bring the situation under control.

BJP leaders like finance minister Vaju Vala, Union minister of state for heavy industries Dr Vallabh Kathiria, BJP general secretary Vijay Rupani and others monitored the work of BJP party, while Congress leaders Shankarsinh Vaghela and chief whip of Congress in Legislative Assembly Naresh Rawal monitored their party work during the by-polls.

BJP candidate Upendra Trivedi cast his vote at a primary school in Kukdia village of Idar taluka. Vice president of the Gujarat State Youth Congress Gopalsinh Rathod cast his vote at Himmatnagar. The polling was lackluster throughtout the day. Scorching heat also had its affect on the low turnout of people during the polls.

News Source : The AsianAge [ The coolest newspaper for city ]


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By polls complaint free, says chief electoral officer Friday, September 21, 2001

By a Correspondent, AsianAge Online
Gandhinagar, Sept. 20: Chief electoral officer Gurcharan Singh said the by elections in both the Sabarkantha Lok Sabha and the Sabarmati Assembly constituency have been “incident and complaint free” barring the two booths in Kumbharia Primary School in the Danta Assembly constituency in Sabarkantha where re-polling has been ordered.

He said no official complaints were received from any party about any untoward incident in both constituencies and even the leader of the Opposition Amarsinh Chaudhary has expressed satisfaction over the way by elections have been conducted.

The chief electoral officer lauded the efforts of the district collector and the police commissioner in Ahmedabad in ensuring peaceful polling. He said the incident-free election in Sabarmati was a result of meticulous planning and the selection of election staff by them.

“A large chunk of presiding officers had been handpicked after being randomised through the use of software. None of the presiding officers knew until the last moment as to where they would be deployed. This had left little scope for the political parties to influence them,” Mr Singh said.

He added that 200 meters area around each polling booth had been made sacrosanct and the RAF and other security agencies had maintained a strict vigil in the area, Mr Singh said. “Moreover, the special barricades at all polling booths were erected to discount any possibility of bogus voting.

Supervision of the polling process was conducted by sector magistrates instead of zonal officers, that left little room for anti-social elements to maneuver the polls, he added. “Central observers have also been fully satisfied with the conduct of the polls,” Mr Singh said.

News Source : The AsianAge [ The coolest newspaper for city ]


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