70 % polling in Punjab; technical glitches, skirmishes at some places

New Update

Chandigarh, Feb 4 (PTI) Punjab recorded an estimated 70 per cent polling during which technical glitches and stray incidents of violence were reported in the state which is seeing a high-stake contest among Congress, new entrant AAP and ruling SAD-BJP combine.

"Nearly 70 per cent polling has taken place," an election office spokesman said here giving the preliminary figures of poll percentage.

"Barring stray incidents of violence the polling in single-phase remained peaceful," Additional Director General of Police (ADGP- elections) V K Bhawra said.

A large number of voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines, installed for the first time in the ongoing Punjab Assembly polls, developed snags during the polling process in the state.


A technical snag was reported in VVPAT machines in Majitha and Sangrur, an election office spokesman said, adding that the matter had been referred to the ECI.

Due to a snag in the machines, polling had to be called off a number of times, Punjab Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) V K Singh said, adding that these machines were replaced by others.

Over 79 per cent electors had cast their votes in the 2012 assembly polls. The final figure of today's voting is still awaited as all those who were inside the polling booths will be allowed to vote, an election official spokesman said here.

Shortly before the polling was to end, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal "thanked Punjabis for peaceful polling and reposing faith in SAD-BJP alliance."

A statement issued by Badal's spokesman quoted him as saying, "Moved by people's love despite negative agenda."

However, this time around 70 per cent out of the total 1.98 crore electors exercised their franchise to decide the fate of 1,145 candidates including Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son and Deputy, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Cabinet Minister Bikram Singh Majithia and Punjab Congress President and the party's chief ministerial candidate, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The total number of electors in the state is 1,98,79,069, including 93,75,546 females. There are 415 transgender voters.

The total number of candidates in the fray include 81 women and a transgender.

Punjab is witnessing a three-cornered contest between ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance, opposition Congress and new entrant Aam Aadmi Party.

Other political outfits in the fray include BSP, former AAP leader Sucha Singh Chhotepur-led Apna Punjab Party, the Left comprising CPI and CPI-M, and SAD-Amritsar.

Voting for Amritsar Lok Sabha seat by-poll was also being held amid tight security arrangements.

For the first time webcasting from over 4,000 polling booths was done, which was monitored from Chandigarh control room.

The election commission had installed VVPAT machines in 33 of the 117 constituencies for the assembly polls and two assembly segments as part of the Amritsar by-polls.

Among those who cast their vote early included Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, CM's daughter-in-law and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Congress veteran Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Capt Amarinder Singh and his wife Preneet Kaur cast their votes in the afternoon.

"Seeking my mother's blessings before casting my vote. Let this be a new dawn for Punjab!, Amarinder tweeted shortly before exercising his franchise.

Former Army chief General J J Singh (retd) of SAD, Navjot Singh Sidhu and Pargat Singh, contesting as Congress candidates, Sucha Singh Chhotepur of Apna Punjab Party (APP), and Bhagwant Mann, Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi and Sukhpal Singh Khaira of AAP, also cast their votes early on.

The polling started around 45 minutes late at two polling booths in Jalandhar, Mohali and Amritsar due to technical glitches in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Polling was brisk in Malwa region of the state comprising 69 Assembly seats as an estimated 75 per cent electors exercised their franchise.

Punjab Cabinet Minister Bikram Singh Majithia was unable to cast his vote in the morning due to technical snag in EVM at polling station number 35, Ward number 5 in Majitha constituency in Amritsar district. He cast his vote later.