By Bisheshwar Mishra /New Delhi
The process of filing nominations to the Gujarat Assembly elections began today with the issuance of notification for the first phase of two-phased Assembly polls being held here.
The last date of filing of nominations is the 21st November while scrutiny will be held the next day. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is the 24th November. In the first phase, the polling will be conducted in 89 of the 182 Assembly constituencies on the 9th of December.
In all 14 districts of Saurashtra, Kutch and South Gujarat will be covered in the first phase of elections. The counting of votes will be taken up on the 18th of next month along with Himachal Pradesh.
A Voter Verifiable Audit Trail (VVPAT) or Verifiable Paper Record (VPR)- a method of providing feedback to voters using ballot-less voting system- will be used in all the polling stations. The VVPAT voting machine system allows voters the possibility to verify that their votes are cast as intended and can serve as an additional barrier to changing or destroying votes.
Apart from this an All women Managed polling stations will be set up in one polling station for each assembly constituency where the entire polling staff will be women.
With this the curtains are set to fall on Gujarat polls as the year 2017 draws to the close.
Most people declare the outcome of the Gujarat Assembly elections to be a foregone conclusion. That the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) will win, most people say. When one looks closely and objectively the outcome may not appear to be that simple. Much has changed since 2012 and more so since 2014.
The last time the Congress came to power in Gujarat state (legislative assembly polls) was in the eighth assembly elections (1990) when the party joined hands with the Janata Dal, adding its 33 seats to the Janta Dal’s 70 pitted against BJP’s 67 seats (out of a total of 182). The very next elections (1995) handed an unequivocal victory to the BJP which won 121 of the 182 seats. Modi held the Chief Minister’s office between October 2001 and 2014 when he staked a claim at the PMO. This, despite the Godhra riots of 2002 and the ensuing criticism, has been a phenomenal run.
This year too BJP looks all set to win the support of the people of Gujarat and the assembly seats required to gain a majority, but the golden dream is on the wane. BJP may lose some 6 to 7 percent votes vis-a-vis 2012 elections when it bagged 64.28 percent seats (116 seats of 182). In 2007, BJP won 117 seats and in 2002 won 127 seats.