Voters in Saurashtra region and south Gujarat on Saturday queued up outside polling stations to cast their votes to elect a new government. Given the high stakes for both Congress and the BJP, the campaign this time around has been incredibly bitter.
Saturday’s election process was also marred by reports of over 100 EVMs malfunctioning both in Surat and Saurashtra. However, the Chief Election Commissioner, Achal Kumar Joti played down the significance of the media reports.
In Porbandar, where Congress stalwart, Arjun Modhwadia is contesting after having lost the election in 2012 by 17,000 votes, the BJP is facing the anger over lack of water supply and growing number of unemployment.
Modhwadia is pitted against the BJP’s Babu Bokhiria, who served as a cabinet minister in the BJP government.
Bhiku Bhai, a local voter, told Janta Ka Reporter they have been facing hardships for several years now with the state government refusing to address their grievances.
The 55-year-old truck driver said, “I barely manage to earn Rs 5,000 a month. We have no access to water and enployment is an all time high. Karkhana (factories) in the entire Ujjawal Nagar area have remained closed for several months now resulting in more unemployment.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made the neech jibe by Congress’s Mani Shankar Aiyar as a big election issue accusing his rivals of attacking his humble background. His supporters on Twitter and sympathetic TV channels recently launched a campaign against a Muslim Congress functionary, Salman Nizami, bringing Pakistan angle to corner the Congress party.
But both topics appeared to have had zero impact on the ground with water and unemployment remaining the two core issues for the voters.
When asked, several young voters in Porbandar said that they had never heard of Aiyar or Nizami and they would have no influence on their voting decision.
In Porbandar, authorities had rush to a polling booth after Congress workers complained they had detected Bluetooth network inside a polling station. After performing a thorough check, the local election officials said that the presence of Bluetooth network was incapable of tampering the EVMs.
News Update : Outrage after Bluetooth network detected in the polling booth in Porbandar, Thakkar plot, Sector Magistrate says random Bluetooth network was on. EVM engineers says no malfunctioning. Top officials reached to the spot. @IndiaToday pic.twitter.com/U7Nlkh0kaS
— ASHUTOSH MISHRA (@ashu3page) December 9, 2017
The second and the last phase of the election will take place on 14 December with the counting scheduled for 18 December.