Gandhinagar, April 17 : As voting continues in the Morva-Hadaf Assembly constituency by-polls in Panchmahals district, around a 30 per cent voter turnout was reported till 2 p.m. The by-poll is witnessing a three-way fight between the BJP, the Congress and an Independent for the seat reserved for the Scheduled Tribes (ST).
The voter turnout has been slow with various factors affecting it like the coronavirus upsurge as well as the scorching summer heat.
Morva-Hadaf, a tribal reserved seat, fell vacant after the winner of 2017 Assembly polls, Independent candidate Bhupendra Khant, was disqualified by Gujarat Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi as the Tribal Development Commissioner had invalidated Khant's caste certificate, terming it as forged. Khant had contested independently, after his party Congress allotted the seat to its ally Bharatiya Tribal Party's candidate Chottu Vasava.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Nimishaben Manharsinh Suthar for the seat. She had won from the same seat in the 2013 by-polls. The Congress has fielded Suresh Chhaganbhai Katara who is a Sarpanch (village head) in Morva-Hadaf Tehsil. The third candidate is an Independent, Sushilaben Parsottambhai Maida.
The counting of votes will be on May 2 and the entire poll process will be completed on May 4.
The polling began at 7 a.m. and will continue till 6 p.m. There are a total of 2,19,185 voters in the constituency, comprising of 1,11,286 male and 1,07,899 female voters. There are 152 service voters. Polling is being carried out in 329 booths in 169 polling centres.
Looking at the prevailing situation, only a maximum of 1,000 voters instead of 1,500 have been allowed at a station. The ECI has appointed 124 micro observers for the by-polls and also appointed a general observer and one expenditure observer.
As evening nears, polling is expected to gather momentum. There was a total voter turnout of 63.14 per cent in the 2017 elections, where Khant won with 58,513 votes over his BJP rival Dindor Vikramsinh Ramsinh who got 54,147 votes.