Aam Aadmi Party’s state unit chief Gopal Italia on Thursday alleged that polling was “deliberately slowed” in Katargam assembly constituency of Gujarat. Italia, who is up against BJP’s sitting MLA and minister of state for urban development Vinu Moradiya, claimed that the average voting percentage across state was around 3.5% but only 1.41% in Katargam. Italia also questioned the autonomy of Election Commission of India, saying “if you have to work only under the pressure of BJP goons, then why do you get elections done?”
“On an average, 3.5% voting has been done in the entire state, but only 1.41% has been done in Katargam. Don’t stoop so low to beat a kid,” the AAP leader said in a tweet in Hindi.
Italia, 33, hailing from Surat, is a former police official and the face of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti along with Patidar leader and BJP candidate from Viramgam assembly constituency Hardik Patel. He joined AAP as the state vice president of AAP in Gujarat in June 2020 and was elevated to the state president post in December 2020.
Polling began at 8 am on Thursday for the first phase of Gujarat Assembly elections in 89 out of the total 182 seats across 19 districts of Saurashtra-Kutch region and southern parts of the state to decide the fate of 788 candidates. About 5.03% and 19.13% average voter turnout was recorded till 9am and 11am, respectively. Katargam saw 18.16% voter turnout till 11am, according to the data published by the Election Commission.
The BJP faces competition not just from its traditional rival Congress but also the new poll entrant AAP, which has tried to position itself as the main challenger of the ruling party. The BJP and the Congress are contesting in all 89 seats while the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP is contesting in 88 seats. Its candidate from Surat East constituency had withdrawn his candidature, leaving the party with one less seat to contest in the first phase.