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High turnout at Gujarat panchayat polls: A sign of villagers’ zeal?

Most voters in villages of Sanand taluka that DNA talked to saw the panchayat polls as something of cause and participating in it as an exercise in their own interest.

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Nikunj Soni

Updated: Dec 30, 2011, 04:58 PM IST

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Unusual enthusiasm among villagers about the village panchayat elections that were held on Thursday was perhaps the main reason for the high voter turnout recorded in the election.

Most voters in villages of Sanand taluka that DNA talked to saw the panchayat polls as something of cause and participating in it as an exercise in their own interest.

There was 73% voter turnout in the panchayat polls that concluded on Thursday. In contrast, the voter turnout in assembly and Lok Sabha polls, on an average, is rarely higher than 50%.

The village panchayat polls are significant not only because they are not contested by political parties but also because villagers voluntarily come to vote in the elections.

"The pattern of voting in the panchayat polls is completely different from that of Lok Sabha elections. In general elections, there is around 50 percent voting. If this touches 60%, it is considered a very good voter turnout," said Pradipsinh Vaghela, president of the BJP youth cell.

"Villagers see panchayat polls as something that concerns only them as they would have a bearing on their future," Vaghela said.

Large numbers of voter — young and old — were seen queuing up to cast their votes in different villages of Sanand taluka, including Sanathal, Jivanpara, Shantipara and Gibpara. "Men and women came to the polling booths on their own and not after being persuaded by candidates or political parties," said Gajendrasinh Chauhan, a resident of Sanathal.

He said 60% voting had taken place before noon in his village. "Sanathal block, which includes three villages, recorded 80% voting," Chauhan said.

The Muslim-dominated village, Gibpara, on Sanand town road also reported the same trend. Irfan, a resident of the village, said, "People are actively taking part in the elections as they have to choose a panchayat leader who can make their life easier," Irfan said.

There were no elections in some villages of Sanand as they had been declared 'Samras'.

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