Jaipur, Jan 16: Over 52 per cent of 1.17 cr electors cast their votes in the first phase of panchayat polls in Rajasthan which ended on a peaceful note at 5 pm today, a senior election official said.
So far around 52 per cent of voters used their franchise to elect 402 ward members of Zila Parishad, and 2,260 members on Panchayat Samiti seats in the first phase, Commissioner of Rajasthan State Election Commission (RSEC), Ram Lubhaya said.
The exact percentage of polling would be known later at night due to technical reasons, Ram Lubhaya said. Barring a few incidents outside the booth area, the polling was held in very peaceful, free and fair means, the Special Director-General of Police (Law and Order) Navdeep Singh told PTI.
There was no booth capturing nor any rigging anywhere at the 13,115 booths, he added. Altogether 1,012 contestants were in the fray for 402 wards of Zila Parishad, and 5,799 candidates contested for 2,260 Panchayat Samiti seats, Lubhaya said.
Due to fog and icy winds the, voter turnout was less in the early hours but later picked up, he said. In the first phase, 10 candidates were elected unopposed on Zila Parishad seats and 45 candidates were elected unopposed on Panchayat Samiti seats after withdrawal of nominations, he said.
The elections are being held amid a controversy over an ordinance issued by the state government fixing educational qualifications for the candidates.
Petitions have been filed in the Rajasthan High Court challenging the ordinance on the grounds that it would take away the rights of the people, particularly of women, as in many segments a majority of them have no formal education.
Petitioners had also sought a stay but the High Court yesterday refused to interfere, saying the poll process was already on and asked them to wait for the final order. The second phase of polls would be held on January 22 and third phase on February 1.
Counting will be held on February 5.