Rajasthan Assembly polls: Over 68 pc voting, stray incidents of violence

Rajasthan Assembly polls: Over 68 pc voting, stray incidents of violence

Jaipur, Nov 25 (PTI) More than 68 per cent voter turnout was recorded by 5 pm in the Rajasthan Assembly elections on Saturday, with polling passing off peacefully barring a few stray incidents of violence.

Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Gupta said that the final voting figures will be issued once data is compiled.

In the last assembly elections in 2018, the state recorded a voter turnout of 74.06 per cent. The Election Commission has set a target of at least 75 per cent turnout in each constituency this time.

Voting at more than 51,000 polling booths in 199 assembly constituencies began at 7 am and ended at 6 pm, but officials said those already in queue at the polling booths were allowed to vote.

'Polling percentage till 5 pm is 68.2 per cent. The highest turnout was in Jaisalmer district, followed by Hanumangarh and Dholpur districts,” Gupta said at a press conference after the polling ended.

The election in the desert state is a direct contest between the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP. The Congress is aiming to buck the trend of the ruling party being voted out every five years, while the BJP is eyeing a return in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year.

Nearly 10 per cent of the electorate cast their votes in the first two hours of voting and the figure went up to nearly 25 per cent by 11 am and to more than 40 per cent by 1 pm.

Polling in the Karanpur assembly constituency in Sriganganagar was postponed due to the death of the Congress candidate.

The votes will be counted on December 3.

Two people - Shanti Lal, who was a polling agent of the BJP candidate from the Sumerpur constituency Joraram Kumawat, and 62-year-old voter Satyendra Arora - died of cardiac arrest at polling booths in Pali and Udaipur districts.

There are more than 5.25 crore registered voters in 199 seats while 1,862 candidates are in the fray.

The Election Commission had made elaborate arrangements to ensure smooth polling. More than 1.70 lakh security personnel were deployed across the state.

In Sanwler village of Kaman in Deeg district, two persons including a policeman were injured in stone-pelting.

'Police fired 12 rounds in the air to disperse the crowd. Voting was disrupted for a few minutes due to the incident,' Deeg Superintendent of Police (SP) Brijesh Upadhyay said.

In Sikar's Fatehpur, two groups clashed and a jawan was injured in the violence.

'Stone pelting occurred outside a polling booth. One jawan was injured in the stone pelting. No civilian was injured. Around 5-7 persons have been detained,' Fatehpur DSP Ram Pratap said.

An altercation occurred between a polling agent and a person outside a polling booth in Dholpur's Bari seat 'Two vehicles were damaged in the ensuing violence. Polling was stopped for some time and resumed later,' Dholpur Collector Anil Kumar Agarwal said.

In Uniara of Tonk district, 40-50 people tried to enter a polling booth. However, the situation was brought under control, SP Rajarshi Raj said.

Asked about the decision to conduct repolling on booths where incidents of clashes were reported, the chief electoral officer said that a decision would be taken after the report of observers is received. Gupta said that there was no report of the voting process being halted at any place.

On complaints of malfunctioning EVMs at some booths, he said that the number was less than the national average Many voters, including youngsters and the elderly, queued up at polling centres well before 7 am.

'I got ready by 6 am, called up my friends and reached the polling booth so that we are the first ones to vote,' Himanshu Jaiyaswal, a college student, told PTI at a polling booth in Nitin Public School in Malviya Nagar.

'This is a festival of democracy and all should participate in it,' Jai Singh, another voter, said.

Selfie points were put up at polling booths and people, particularly young voters, took selfies after casting their votes.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Union ministers Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Kailash Chaudhary, former chief minister Vasundhara Raje and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot were among the first ones to cast their votes. Gehlot and Shekhawat voted in Jodhpur, Chaudhary in Balotra, Raje in Jhalawar and Pilot in Jaipur.

Rajasthan BJP president C P Joshi exercised his franchise in Chittorgarh and party MPs Diya Kumari and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore voted in Jaipur. Kumari and Rathore are among the seven BJP parliamentarians who are contesting the assembly elections.

In their interactions with the media, the leaders expressed confidence that their respective parties would get the mandate of the people.

There is no anti-incumbency against the Congress and the party will form the government in the state again, Chief Minister Gehlot said in Jodhpur. 'There seems to be an undercurrent. Looks like the (Congress) government will be repeated,' he said.

Talking to reporters in Jhalawar, Gehlot's predecessor Raje retorted, 'I agree with him. There is indeed an undercurrent but in the favour of BJP. Lotus (BJP's poll symbol) will bloom on December 3.' In Jodhpur, Union minister Shekhawat said, 'BJP is coming to power with a huge majority. This time people will vote keeping in mind crimes committed against women, paper leak incidents and corruption during the five-year rule of the Congress.' Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and several other leaders appealed to the people of Rajasthan to vote in large numbers.

The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are also contesting the assembly polls in the state.

In the 2018 assembly polls, the Congress wrested power from the BJP and formed the government with Ashok Gehlot as chief minister for a third time. The Congress had won 100 seats and the BJP 73 then. The BJP, in 2013, formed the government with Vasundhara Raje becoming the chief minister for a second time. In 2013, the BJP had won 163 seats and the Congress 21. PTI SDA AG SMN RT

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