Elections

Counting in Gujarat, Himachal today

Acrimonious campaign seen as prestige contest for Modi

Counting for the crucial Assembly elections in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home State of Gujarat will be held on Monday. Counting will also take place for 68 seats of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly, almost 40 days after voting.

Exit polls have favoured the BJP to win both States with a comfortable majority.

In Gujarat, the BJP is seeking a sixth straight term, having captured power in the mid-nineties, while the Opposition Congress is seeking to stage a comeback with a spirited campaign led by Rahul Gandhi.

 

The elections also catapulted young leaders in the State — Jignesh Mevani, Alpesh Thakor and Hardik Patel — from social activism to politics. OBC leader Thakor joined the Congress and contested the polls from Radhanpur and Dalit activist Mevani contested as an Independent backed by the Congress. The leader of the Patidar agitation Hardik Patel did not contest the polls but he campaigned extensively against the BJP.

The polls were marked by a bitter and acrimonious campaign, particularly in Gujarat, which culminated in Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing his predecessor Manmohan Singh and the Congress of conspiring with Pakistan to manipulate the election results and install veteran Congress leader Ahmed Patel as Chief Minister.

Local concerns

In Himachal Pradesh, both the ruling Congress and the BJP are claiming imminent victory. While the Congress dismissed the exit poll results, the saffron party is confident that its performance will better the projections. In a relatively low key campaign centred on local issues, the BJP focused on Mr Modi’s performance and the experience and leadership of its chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal. The party also raised the corruption charges against incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

 

Sparring continues even on eve of counting day

“Counting of votes will be held at 37 locations across 33 districts in the State under elaborate security arrangements,” Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) B.B. Swain said. Over 2000 candidates are in the fray for 182 seats.

In Himachal Pradesh, 377 candidates contested for 68 seats. While the BJP and Congress fielded candidates on all seats, the BSP contested 42 seats followed by the CPI(M) 14, the Swabhiman party and the Lok Gathbandhan Party six each and the CPI-3. Counting will be held in 42 centres with the deployment of 2,820 staff including counting supervisors, counting assistants and micro observers.

Chief Electoral Officer, Pushpender Rajput said three- tier security arrangements have been made at all counting centres.

 

Vulnerable machines

Following the exit poll results which predicted a majority for the BJP in both States, several leaders in Gujarat from the Congress, Patidar leader Hardik Patel and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, raised the issue EVMs being hacked.

Posting on Twitter, Mr. Patel on Sunday said, “If a human body, made by God, could be tampered with, then why not an EVM, which is made by humans?” He also alleged that there had been attempts to hack EVMs using its “source code” in the Patidar-dominated and tribal areas of the State.

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 4:57:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/counting-in-gujarat-himachal-today/article21827990.ece

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