MeraNews Network, Rajkot: Jasdan, a Rajkot sub-district voted in the high-stakes bypolls on Thursday, which saw two Koli community stalwarts, Avsar Nakia from Congress and Kunvarji Bavaliya from Bharatiya Janata Party in a direct contest to win this important assembly seat. By the end of the day, the voter turnout has been recorded at about 73 percent, even as leaders from both BJP and Congress were seen breaking the election code of conduct brazenly in a last-ditch attempt at wooing voters.
With 2019 general elections just months away, Jasdan bypolls is being seen as an important litmus test for the BJP, who suffered a disappointing rout in the assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.
Polling began as early as 8 AM, where Nakia went early to the polling centre to cast his vote in a chakkada rickshaw along with his supporters, while Kunvarji Bavaliya went to the Vinchiya polling centre with his family to cast his vote. Nakia sounded confident as he told media persons at the polling centre that Jasdan has been loyal to Congress and will remain so in this poll too. Bavaliya, who was with Congress earlier and has won a record six times from the seat, switched his loyalties to BJP earlier this year and is expecting his personal reputation as a Koli leader to win this seat for the BJP.
Within half an hour of the polling, a picture of an EVM was shared in a WhatsApp group of BJP members. The picture showed a finger pointing towards the button of BJP’s Kunvarji Bavaliya. As the picture went viral in various social media platforms, the Congress complained to the election commission, which is looking into the matter.
Meanwhile, farmers who have been struggling to get good prices for their produce wore necklaces made out of onions and went to polling booths to cast their votes.
At Dadli village Congress workers and policemen on the ground got into a verbal spat and two Congress workers cars were seized by the cops. Angered by this, Congress MLA Virji Thummar and other Congress leaders accused the police of harassing its party workers. Thummar and Chotila MLA Rutwik Makwana were later detained by the cops for creating a ruckus. They were later let off somewhere near Santhali. Thummar sat on a dharna to protest against the police and the BJP.
There were some other instances of bogus voting and faulty EVMs too. One Bhupat Dhoriya of Dadli village in Vinchiya complained of bogus voting in his name, while voting had to be suspended for a while at Jivapar village and Lilapur village due to low battery and technical snag in the VVPAT machine. Congress members complained to the police about former Gondal MLA Jayrajsinh threatening voters to vote for BJP in Dadva and other villages. They requested for a police team to be sent in the area to convince voters not to vote in fear of someone.
262 polling booths at 159 locations were set up at Jasdan, out of which 126 booths in 72 locations were declared sensitive and extra security has been accorded to it. The results of this bypoll will be declared on December 23.