Ahmedabad: Around 35.52% voter turnout was recorded in the first two hours of voting for the first phase of Gujarat elections till 2pm, the Election Commission said on Saturday.
But even as the voting continued, reports of EVMs malfunctioning started trickling in, but the EC said the machines have been fixed. According to an EC official, requesting anonymity, said that about 30-40 EVMs were replaced because they did not function properly.
The Congress, however, alleged possible misuse and tampering of the EVMs. “Our leader Arjun Modhwadia has submitted screen shots from his mobile device to EC which shows that they can be connected to bluetooth devices. This issue has so far been found in about 7-8 EVMs in Porbandar,” Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said over the phone.
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The EC official quoted earlier said they were yet to look into the allegations made by the Congress, but said “it was not possible” to connect EVMs to electronic or bluetooth devices.
On Friday, the EC had released a press statement to “reassure the people of the country that it would leave no stone unturned in preserving the integrity and credibility of the elections”.
The Gujarat elections is the first instance where the EC is deploying VVPAT machines in all the 50,128 polling stations across the state to “inject greater transparency and credibility” to the voting process and allay fears regarding rigging of EVMs.
VVPAT is short for voter verifiable paper audit trail.
Polling is taking place in 89 constituencies spread across 19 districts of Kutch, Saurashtra and South Gujarat regions on Saturday. A total of 21.2 million voters are expected to cast their votes at 24,689 polling stations in Saurashtra and South Gujarat. A total of 977 candidates are contesting, including chief minister Vijay Rupani, Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani and Congress leaders Shaktisinh Gohil, Arjun Modhvadia and Paresh Dhanani.
The Congress is hopeful of a return to power in Gujarat after being in opposition for over 22 years. It’s hoping the trio of youth leaders Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor will sway the Patel, Dalit and OBC votes, respectively, in its favour.
The BJP, however, is hoping form the government in the state for a record fifth consecutive time. It has also set itself a target of winning 150 seats in this year’s Gujarat elections