Voting began on Sunday (8 June) in the first stage on the crucial state legislative assembly elections in Gujarat state, Western India.
Voting began on Sunday (8 June) in the first stage on the crucial state legislative assembly elections in Gujarat state, Western India. Ninety-five of the region's 182 constituencies were involved. Polling for the remaining seats will take place next Wednesday (11 June).
Results of the total poll in Gujarat could give a major indication of the personal popularity of Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, following strong attacks from the emerging umbrella opposition organisation, the Janata Front (People's Front) led by her former Deputy Prime Minister, Morarji Desai.
There are 852 candidates in the field for Gujarat's 182 assembly seats. The ruling national Congress Party has put up 182 candidates, the Janata Front 176, and the main local opposition party K.M.L.P. (Agricultural Workers' Union) 128. The election campaign has been almost without major issues and is seen as a vital test of policies, personalities and party groupings before next year's national elections.
At the last elections in Gujarat in 1972, Mrs. Gandhi's Congress Party swept into power. But this situation could easily be changed by voter apathy, a reduced personal appeal for Mrs. Gandhi, and the re-emergence in Gujarat politics of the K.M.L.P. leader, Mr. Chimandhai Patel...a former Chief Minister sacked by the Congress last year.
Initial reports indicated that voter turn-out among the state's 14-million people was low compared to previous years. Later in the day, also, fighting broke out between supporters of rival groups in the state capital, Ahmedabad, in which three people were killed and 16 injured.