Ahmedabad, November 3
Voting for bypolls in eight Assembly seats in Gujarat began on Tuesday morning, an election official said.
Polling began at 7 am and will end at 6 pm, the official said, adding authorities are taking steps to check the spread of COVID-19 during voting.
Altogether 81 candidates are in fray in the eight seats, which collectively have 18.75 lakh voters, he said.
As not more than 1,000 voters are allowed in one booth due to COVID-19 concerns and guidelines of the Election Commission, 3,024 polling booths have been set up, higher than in a normal scenario.
“To stop spread of the infection, we will also provide plastic hand gloves to all the voters as they will be required to sign the register and touch the EVM buttons. Their hands will be sanitised while coming in and going out of the polling booths,” he said.
The official said 3,400 thermal guns, 41,000 N-95 masks, 82,000 disposable masks, 41,000 face shields and an equal number of rubber hand gloves have been procured for the staff deployed for polling.
The voting process is being webcast live from 900 polling booths, the official said.
Polling is being held in eight seats- Abdasa (Kutch district), Limbdi (Surendranagar), Morbi (Morbi district), Dhari (Amreli), Gadhada (Botad), Karjan (Vadodara), Dang (Dang district) and Kaprada (Valsad).
The bypolls were necessitated after Congress MLAs there resigned ahead of Rajya Sabha polls in June this year.
Five of them joined the ruling BJP and the party has fielded them from the seats which they won in 2017.
The five are Brijesh Merja (Morbi), Akshay Patel (Karjan), Jitu Chaudhary (Kaprada), Pradyumansinh Jadeja (Abdasa) and J V Kakadiya (Dhari).
The other three BJP candidates are- Atmaram Parmar (Gadhada), Vijay Patel (Dang) and Kiritsinh Rana (Limbdi).
Parmar and Rana are former state ministers who lost the 2017 Assembly polls from the same seats.
The opposition Congress has 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).
The Bharatiya Tribal Party, which has two MLAs at present in the 182-member House, has also fielded two candidates – in Dang, a seat reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidates, and Karjan.
Smaller outfits like the Bahujan Maha Party, Bahujan Mukti Party, Bharatiya Jana Parishad, Akhil Bharatiya Rajarya Sabha, All India Majlish-e-Inqulab-e-Millat, Rashtravadi Jana Chetna, Yuva Jan Jagruti, Vyavastha Parivartan Party and Rashtriya Jankranti Party have also fielded a few candidates.
The counting of votes will take place on November 10.