To motivate and inspire young voters, for the first time, 33 polling centres will be managed by young polling parties during the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections, said Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar on Thursday.
Calling the voting day a festival of democracy, the CEC urged all the people of Gujarat to vote.
"Gujarat is celebrating the festival of democracy today. On behalf of EC, my sincere appeal to all 4.9 crore voters of Gujarat to vote today and on December 5 during the second phase of elections," he said.
Kumar said that over 4 lakh Persons with Disabilities (PwD) voters and 9.8 lakh senior citizen voters are in Gujarat.
"We are giving them all facilitations. It is an occasion to give equity and equality and show respect to them. Participation of over 10,000 centenarians and PwD voters should be an inspiration for all of us, especially our young voters. Over 182 polling stations are being managed by PwD staff," said the CEC.
He said that women election staff are present at 1274 booths.
"4.77 lakh first-time voters would exercise their franchise in these elections and of these, over 3.3 lakh young voters have been added because of the recent electoral reforms. To motivate and inspire young voters, for the first time, 33 polling centres will be managed by young polling parties. These are polling staff who have been appointed recently," added CEC Kumar.
Polling for the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly election began at 8 am today amid tight security arrangements.
The fate of the political parties will be decided by over 2 crore voters today, with 89 constituencies spread across 19 districts of Kutch, Saurashtra and South Gujarat going for polling.
A total of 2,39,76,670 voters, who will cast their votes by 5 pm today will decide the fate of 788 candidates who are in the fray for the first phase.
Out of the total number of electorates, 1,24,33,362 are males, 1,1,5,42,811 females and 497 are from the third gender. Over 4 lakh PWD voters are eligible to cast their votes.
Nearly 9.8 lakh senior citizen voters (80+) and nearly 10,000 voters who are 100 and above are eligible to vote.
According to the EC, there are 5,74,560 voters who are between 18 to 19 years of age while 4,945 voters are above 99 years of age. There are 163 NRI voters, of which 125 are men and 38 are women.
There are 14,382 voting centres, out of which 3,311 are in the urban areas and 11,071 in the rural areas.
In the first phase, voting will be held at a total of 25,430 polling stations. Out of these 13,065, polling stations will be webcast live.
Among prominent candidates, Gujarat Chief Minster Bhupendra Patel is contesting from Ghatlodia, AAP Chief Ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi from Khambhaliya, former Congress leader and BJP candidate Hardik Patel from Viramgam, former Congress leader and now BJP candidate Alpesh Thakor from Gandhinagar South.
AAP state president Gopal Italia is contesting from Katargam constituency, Gujarat Home Minister (State) Harsh Sanghavi from Majura, Rivaba Jadeja from Jamnagar North, former Gujarat minister Parshottam Solanki from Bhavnagar Rural, Kunwarji Bavaliya from Jasdan, Kantilal Amrutiya from Morbi and Jayesh Radadiya from Jetpur.
Former BJP MLA Madhu Shrivastav is contesting as an Independent from Vaghodia.
The counting of votes will be done on December 8. Results of the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections will also be declared on the same day. (ANI)