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Gujarat local body polls acid test for Anandiben


Gandhinagar: With more than half its population of 63.8 million going to the polls on November 22 and 29, the elections to 323 local self-government bodies in Gujarat will be a major popularity test for Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.

Anandiben Patel will face her first full-scale election after taking over as chief minister from her mentor and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014. There were some assembly and local body by-elections last year, which produced a mixed bag of results.

The local body elections will be held with the state’s first woman chief minister in office for close to two years. Since the electorate of 35.5 million will be from both urban and rural areas, the results will be a referendum on her rule without Modi around. The term of the present state assembly expires in December 2017.

Agreeing that the elections will be a true test, the seniormost minister and government spokesperson Nitin Patel told IANS: “Every election is an acid test. Our party has begun preparations for the polls and has started the process to select candidates.”

Anandiben Patel is confident that people will again repose faith in the Bhratiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Congress however seems confident of overcoming the BJP challenge.

Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki says: “We are exposing the failure of the BJP in municipalities. There is dirt, filth, corruption, everywhere. These are the real issues.”

Another task was to consolidate the Congress rank and file and iron out differences,says Solanki

According to State Election Commissioner Varesh Sinha, polling will be held first on November 22 for the municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar, all of which are controlled by the BJP, and have 9.49 million eligible voters. The votes will be counted on November 26.

The terms of two other newly-created municipal corporations of Gandhinagar and Junagadh, also under BJP rule, expire after six months and four years respectively.

The November 29 voting will be for 230 taluka (tehsil) panchayats, 56 nagarpalikas (municipalities) and 31 district panchayats. The vote count is due on December 2.

There are 3.66 million voters in the municipalities, while the taluka panchayats account for the largest electorate of 22.3 million voters. The mandate from the taluka panchayat areas is considered crucial since they comprise a mix of urban and rural population.

At present, the BJP controls 150 taluka panchayats, 42 municipalities and 30 district panchayats, excluding that of tribal-dominated Tapi in south Gujarat which is with the Congress.

The uncanny nervousness in the BJP government was evident when it promulgated an ordinance postponing the local body elections citing law and order concerns in the wake of the agitation by the Patel community.

The BJP had to face these elections after the State Election Commission was pulled up by the Gujarat High Court, which described as unconstitutional the move to put off the electoral process. It wondered why elections to local bodies could not be held when polling could be conducted in strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir.

(Darshan Desai,IANS)

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Women staff takes the lead in recently held Assembly Elections

The recently held assembly elections were the first of its kind where all the polling staff, police and security personnel were all women staff.

The Gujarat elections
Women on their way to the polling booths in Gujarat on December 9, VOA News

NEW DELHI: The Assembly election of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh were well swept by the Bhartiya Janta Party, where Congress closely followed them in both the states. It was a win-win situation for the Narendra Modi led government, as these results have bundled Congress to only four states now.

Apart from the results, there were other things which made the cult and worth appreciating. Following are the few of them:

All Women staff
The recently held assembly elections were the first of its kind where all the polling staff, police and security personnel were all women staff. Almost 182 women were responsible for the smooth conduct of the election operations. This initiative will help in bridging the gap between gender inequality.

Financial scrutiny
All the contesting candidates were asked to open a new bank account and manage all election expenditures from the same. This measure helped in bettering the check on all the spending on election campaigns.

The maximum limit per candidate was set at 28 lakhs and Directorate of Income Tax Department was the supervising authority in this.

CCTV Monitored
To shun any kind of malpractices by the contesting parties or candidates, the polling booths were fully covered by CCTV cameras. Even the filing of nomination papers, first level checking, dispatching of postal ballot papers, the polling process and storage of EVMs and VVPATS before and after the polling were done under the watch of cameras.

The event like Assembly elections calls for a lot of advertising practices. Be it a banner or pamphlets, these thing becomes a direct threat to our environment. So, to ensure the safety of environment during these elections, Election common directed all the candidates against the use of any polythene, plastic and other harmful materials

Smart management
To make the whole event a success, voters were well informed 7 days prior to their enrolled polling station. Even to cater the needs of everyone, candidate’s photos were displayed on all the EVM machines, so that there should be no room for any confusion.

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