The high-stakes Barmer constituency, where BJP rebel Jaswant Singh is contesting as an Independent candidate, recorded a turnout of 71.53 percent, the second highest among the 20 constituencies that went to the polls in Rajasthan in the first phase on Thursday.
Mr. Singh, who is fighting a battle for prestige, complained to the Election Commission that the ruling BJP government manipulated the administrative machinery. He was, however, confident that the people would vote in large numbers to “save Barmer.”
“This is really a battle to save this region from some corrupt individuals who want to control the oil and lignite discovered in this region. It is all about that,” he told The Hindu.
However, one perception is that the large turnout could benefit the BJP, whose candidate Sonaram Chaudhary is a former Congress MLA. The Congress candidate, Harish Chaudhary, is seeking re-election.
From first-timers to nonagenarians, voters braved the sweltering heat to cast their ballot. At the polling booth in Mewanagar, where Mr. Singh voted along with his son Manvendra Singh and other family members in the morning, voters participated enthusiastically.
“We are here to vote for pride and honour,” said 90-year-old Harku Kanwar, frail and barely managing to be audible.
“I have voted for the first time — for better roads, access to potable water and round-the-clock power supply,” Omaram, 20, said.
Not seeing too many senior citizens during the second half of the day, Mr. Singh’s supporters worked overtime to get them out of their homes to vote.
With 925 of the 2,034 polling booths in the constituency declared sensitive, 250 mobile teams and 4,000 security personnel were deployed.