Polling was underway on Sunday at more than 23,000 booths for elections to 8,690 village panchayats in Gujarat, with tight security arrangements and COVID-19 protocols in place. The polls are being seen as a major test for political parties ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections due in December next year.
Counting of votes will be held on December 21. A total 27,200 candidates are in the fray for the elections of sarpanch and 1,19,998 for panchayat members.
As many as 1,165 village panchayats and 9,613 wards were declared as “totally uncontested”, where representatives were elected unopposed, as per the Gujarat State Election Commission. Such panchayats are called ‘samras’ in Gujarat.
Besides, 473 sarpanchs have been elected in a “partially uncontested” process (where only one candidate for the post of sarpanch was left after withdrawal of nominations while polls for other seats were being held), it said.
The SEC, in a release, said, of the 10,879 village panchayats, the five-year tenure of 10,117 is ending in December, while polls will be held in 65 panchayats due to splitting or dissolution of existing bodies, and bypolls in 697 panchayats where seats fell vacant due to various reasons.
Nearly 2.06 crore voters will elect 10,284 sarpanchs and 89,702 panchayat members of these 10,879 gram panchayats, though 1,267 gram panchayats have been declared as ‘samras’ or “fully uncontested”, as only one candidate remained on December 7, the last day for withdrawal of nominations.
Polling is being held across 23,112 booths using ballot boxes instead of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) due to a very high number of wards, the state election body said. As many as 37,451 ballot boxes are being used for the election, it said. A total over 1.81 crore voters will exercise their franchise, including 93.6 lakh men and 88.3 lakh women, it said.