The Gujarat government and State Election Commission have decided to introduce e-voting in the next local body elections becoming the first state in the country to enable citizens to cast their franchise online.

“This will be for the first time in the country that in any official election the method of online voting via Internet will be used, beginning with Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation polls scheduled in mid-October followed by Rajkot, Vadodara, Surat, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar local body elections,” SEC Secretary, P. H. Shah said.

“A task force has been formed to cover all the aspects of e-voting headed by State Election Commissioner K. C. Kapoor,” Mr. Shah said.

Also, Gujarat’s urban development department has issued a draft notification asking for objections and suggestions on the issue last week, he said.

“The purpose for introduction of online voting is to make affluent class people vote, who generally avoid going to polling booths and standing in long queues to vote. Besides, youths will be attracted to vote in this manner,” he said.

“We are planning to rope in top IT firms of the country to give end-to-end services as it involves finer aspects like secrecy of vote, authenticity of the voter and ensuring that no bogus voting takes place,” Shah said.

The bidding process to rope in IT firms has been initiated, Mr. Shah said.

Welcoming the step, BJP leader and Vice-Chancellor of Kutch University, Shashiranjan Yadav said this would bring transparency and provide a lot of freedom to people to cast their vote.

However, Gujarat Congress has expressed its displeasure over the move. “We are not against online voting in municipal corporation elections but ruling BJP’s step is for the benefit of a class and not for the mass. They think that by doing this, they will be able to make the upper middle class vote which is generally considered to be a vote base of that party,” Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said.

According to political analyst Achyut Yagnik, the upper middle class discusses a lot about politics but do not come out to vote. “The BJP by brining e-voting is aiming to rope in this class which they think is their vote bank.”