Guj: 58.58 per cent voting for bypolls to eight Assembly seats

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(Eds: updating) Ahmedabad, Nov 3 (PTI) Bypolls to eight Assembly seats in Gujarat on Tuesday witnessed 58.58 per cent voter turnout, officials said.

The polling, held between 7 am and 6 pm in Abdasa (Kutch district), Limbdi (Surendranagar), Morbi (Morbi district), Dhari (Amreli), Gadhada (Botad), Karjan (Vadodara), Dang (Dang district) and Kaprada (Valsad) constituencies, was mostly peaceful, they said.

As per the tentative figures provided by the election authorities, 58.58 per cent voter turnout was registered.

'Voting took place in a peaceful manner. No untoward incident took place. We have received 17 written complaints about various violations,' said Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Gujarat S Murali Krishna.

'All these complaints were forwarded to concerned district election officers for further action. In some cases, FIRs were also registered,' he said, adding that decision on conducting fresh polling at any booth will be taken after consulting observers and returning officers.

Workers of ruling BJP and opposition Congress came to blows outside a polling booth in Gadhadha town over alleged bogus voting. The police separated the two groups.

Counting will take place on November 10.

A total of 81 candidates were in the fray for eight seats which collectively had 18.75 lakh registered voters.

To maintain social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, election authorities had set up 3,024 polling booths, much more than usual.

Disposable hand gloves were given to voters at polling booths.

The byelections were necessitated after the sitting Congress MLAs resigned ahead of Rajya Sabha polls in June.

Five of them joined the ruling BJP and the party fielded them from the same seats.

These five candidates are Brijesh Merja (Morbi), Akshay Patel (Karjan), Jitu Chaudhary (Kaprada), Pradyumansinh Jadeja (Abdasa) and J V Kakadiya (Dhari).

The other three BJP candidates in the fray were Atmaram Parmar (Gadhada), Vijay Patel (Dang) and Kiritsinh Rana (Limbdi).

The Congress fielded Jayantilal Patel (Morbi), Kiritsinh Jadeja (Karjan), Babubhai Vartha (Kaprada), Shantilal Sendhani (Abdasa), Suresh Kotadiya (Dhari), Mohan Solanki (Gadhada), Suryakant Gavit (Dang) and Chetan Khachar (Limbdi).

Two men were arrested with Rs 57,000 in cash in Karjan area hours before polling began. The police claimed that the money was supplied by a Congress worker to influence voters.

CEO Krishna ordered inquiry into two viral videos which purportedly suggested that BJP workers were distributing money in Karjan.

The CEO also asked the Morbi district election officer to probe a claim that BJP pamphlets were distributed near a polling booth.

A probe was also ordered into allegation of bogus voting at Gedi village under Limbdi constituency. PTI PJT PD GK KRK KRK