Gujarat Assembly election: High-decibel campaign for the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections to be held on December 1 ended at 5 pm on Tuesday. Voting for 89 seats across 19 districts of south Gujarat and Kutch-Saurashtra regions will be held on Thursday. As many as 788 candidates are in the fray in the first phase of the election.
The state, which has traditionally witnessed a bipolar contest between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, has a third player this time in the form of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has fielded candidates on 181 out of total 182 seats in the Assembly.
Who are the top runners in the first phase of voting?
Among notable candidates in the first phase is Aam Aadmi Party’s chief ministerial face Isudan Gadhvi, who is contesting from Khambhalia in Devbhumi Dwarka district. Former Gujarat minister Parshottam Solanki, six-time MLA Kunwarji Bavaliya, Morbi ‘hero’ Kantilal Amrutiya, cricketer Ravindra Jadeja‘s wife Rivaba and Gujarat AAP president Gopal Italia are also in the fray.
Who have been the top campaigners?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP’s campaign for the first phase while Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party president J P Nadda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and a host of other BJP leaders also addressed several rallies. With AAP positioning itself as the main contender against the BJP, its national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal led a massive campaign covering the entire state within five months since July.
In the first phase, 89 candidates each of the BJP and Congress, and 88 of AAP are in the fray. AAP candidate for Surat East withdrew his nomination on the last day.
Women in the race?
The BJP has fielded nine, Congress six and AAP five women candidates in the first phase. Of total 788 candidates in the fray in the first phase, 718 are male and only 70 female.
Other players besides AAP, BJP and Congress
Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded 57 candidates in the first phase, Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) has fielded 14, Samajwadi Party 12, Communist Party of India (Marxist) four, Communist Party of India two candidates. There are 339 independents.
According to the Election Commission, a total of 2,39,76,670 voters are registered in the areas covered by the first phase. This includes 1,24,33,362 male, 1,15,42,811 female and 497 third gender voters. There are a total of 4,91,35,400 registered voters in Gujarat. Voting will be held at 25,434 polling booths in the first phase of election — 9,018 in urban areas and 16,416 in rural areas. A total of 34,324 ballot units, 34,324 control units and 38,749 VVPATs (voter-verified paper audit trail) will be used in the first phase, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer said in a release. A total of 2,20,288 trained officers-employees will be on duty. In the first phase, 27,978 presiding officers and 78,985 polling officers will be on duty. As per section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, campaigning is prohibited 48 hours before the closing time of polling.
In the last spell of campaigning
On the last day of campaigning for the first phase, Amit Shah, Nadda, Adityanath and Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant were scheduled to address rallies for the BJP. Shah was to speak at rallies in Khedbrahma, Savli and Bhiloda, while Adityanath was to speak in Lunawada, Dabhoi and Godhra. Prime Minister Modi was in Gujarat for two days on November 27-28 and addressed six rallies in Netrang, Kheda, Palitana, Anjar, Jamnagar and Rajkot.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was scheduled to hold road shows at Limbdi, Wadhwan, Botad, Dasada and Viramgam for AAP on Tuesday.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge addressed rallies in Mehsana and Ahmedabad on Monday and at Dediapada and Bapunagar in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
An interesting study on poll battle on social media
With less than one week left for the high octane poll battle to end, the ruling BJP and new player AAP have intensified their online campaigning to reach out to the voters active on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. At the same time, the Congress’ main social media handles have focused more on promoting Rahul Gandhi’s ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ than the party’s campaigning for the election.
An analysis of Facebook accounts and Twitter handles last week (Nov 21-27) of the three parties showed that Congress’ handles were more attentive to Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, as 75 per cent of the total posts were on the yatra.
Less than 20 per cent of the posts on its Facebook page and the Twitter handle were on the party’s campaigning in Gujarat elections. On the other hand, about 40 per cent of the posts from the Bhartiya Janata Party’s main Facebook page and Twitter handle were related to Gujarat polls during the same duration.
However, the Aam Aadmi Party’s social media posts from its main handles were ahead of both the BJP and Congress, as every second post from its main handles was related to the Gujarat elections. On Sunday (November 27) , more than 95 per cent of content shared from the AAP’s main Facebook and Twitter accounts was on the party’s activities in Gujarat.
The BJP maintained the flow of tweets and Facebook posts from its main handles on the party’s public rallies in Gujarat. More than 40 per cent of its tweets and above 35 per cent of its Facebook posts shared between November 21 and November 27 were related to the party’s campaigning in Gujarat.
(With PTI input)