February 22, 2017 12:50:52 am
THE CONCERTED effort by Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation’s election staff, to increase the voting percentage, resulted in what poll officials described as a “historic high” of 67 per cent voting percentage, a jump of 15 per cent from the 2012 civic elections. It was the highest voting percentage in the 10 municipal corporations across Maharashtra that went to polls today. PCMC poll officials said in the last six civic elections, PCMC voting percentage has always hovered between 50-60 per cent, and had never reached close to 70 per cent.
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The polling was held across 32 panels to elect 128 corporators to the PCMC general body. “The polling was peaceful and smooth. There were some incidents of EVMs malfunctioning, but they were sorted out quickly,” said Yeshwant Mane, chief of the PCMC’s election department. Describing the voting percentage as the highest in PCMC history, Mane said,”It is a big achievement….” Municipal Commissioner Dinesh Waghmare said, “We had put in our best efforts to increase the voting percentage. We had predicted that polling would be around 70 per cent and it has been along expected lines,” he said.
In at least three places, the EVMs developed problems pertaining to “configuration error”, but poll officials said they were replaced in less than 15 minutes.
Both the political parties in race for power at PCMC — NCP and BJP — claimed that the high voting percentage would work in their favour. “We will now be in power and the NCP will have to sit at home…,” said BJP’s Pimpri-Chinchwad unit president Laxman Jagtap, claiming that his party will get between 70 to 80 seats. The NCP ridiculed BJP’s claim, saying NCP voters had come out in a big way and voted for the party. “We will remain in the saddle no matter what the BJP claims,” said NCP leader Yogesh Behl. Shiv Sena MP Shrirang Barne said the NCP would emerge as the largest party, while the Sena will get between 30-40 seats, and the BJP will finish third.
The polling, which started at 7.30 am across 1,605 polling booths, was by and large peaceful. A few incidents of verbal exchanges between supporters of rival candidates were reported from some areas.
Vithalnagar area, near Nehrunagar, which falls in Panel No. 9, witnessed some tense moments as supporters of a candidate were allegedly attacked with a sword by the supporters of a rival candidate. “We have taken one person into custody …we immediately brought the situation under control,” said DCP Ganesh Shinde. In another incident in Pimpri Camp, a clash broke out between supporters of Dabbu Aswani and his rival Dhanraj Aswani. Both parties had lodged complaints against each other, said police.
The polling started in a low-key manner and it was only in the last two hours that it picked up momentum. Whether it was in Pimpri Camp, Yamunanagar, Dapodi, Kasarwadi, Sangvi, Wakad, Rahatni or Thergaon, the booths were chock-a-block with voters. Across town, poll officials closed the gates at 5.30 pm, but voting went on till close to 10.30 pm in at least three panels.
If the youngsters were at the forefront, the old and the ailing were not too far behind. Barely 15 days ago, 55-year-old Kisan Shankar Gaware had suffered a paralytic attack, yet he mustered the strength to reach the polling booth in Wakad. “I have come on my own… nobody has forced me,” he said. Gangubai Wankhede, 90, instantly drew attention as she tried to climb the stairs and reach the polling booth at D Y Patil school in Pimpri. “I am 90 year old and have voted many times,” she said. “Let me vote, go away,” she said.
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