45 percent polling in Punjab by early afternoon (Second Lead)

May 13th, 2009 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Chandigarh, May 13 (IANS) At least 45 percent voting was recorded in the nine parliamentary constituencies of Punjab by 1.30 p.m. Wednesday.
Amidst hope of high voter turnout, polling in nine parliamentary constituencies of Punjab and the lone seat in the union territory of Chandigarh began Wednesday morning for the fifth and final round of the general elections.

Officials said between 40 and 45 percent voting was recorded by early afternoon.

Long queues could be seen in Punjab’s rural areas and some of the urban polling centres.

In rural areas voters were seen queuing up even before voting began at 7 a.m. at 13,152 polling centres.

Urban voters initially seemed less enthusiastic compared to their rural counterparts.

Over 11.5 million people are eligible to vote in Punjab Wednesday.

In Chandigarh, which recorded just 52 percent voting in the 2004 general elections, voter turnout seemed much better this time. Till 11 a.m. nearly 25 percent of the 522,650 electorate of the union territory had exercised their franchise.

The nine constituencies in Punjab voting Wednesday are Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Khadoor Sahib, Jalandhar (reserved), Hoshiarpur (reserved), Faridkot (reserved), Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib (reserved) and Anandpur Sahib.

The fate of 139 candidates in these nine seats will be decided Wednesday. The highest number of candidates, 30, are fighting for the Ludhiana seat.

Prominent candidates in the fray include cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu (BJP-Amritsar), actor Vinod Khanna (BJP-Gurdaspur), Congress spokesman Manish Tewari (Ludhiana), singer Hans Raj Hans (Akali Dal-Jalandhar) and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal (Akali Dal-Fatehgarh Sahib).

Sidhu prayed at the holiest of Sikh shrines Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as Golden Temple, before casting his vote.

Punjab had recorded a high polling percentage of 73.5 percent in the May 7 poll, when balloting had taken place in the other four constituencies of the state. Less than 62 percent had cast their votes in the 2004 general elections.

In Chandigarh, Union Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal was among the early ones to cast his vote. He is aiming for a hat-trick of victories from the seat.

There are 14 contestants in the fray for the Chandigarh seat though Bansal’s main contest is with Satya Pal Jain of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine had won 11 seats in the 2004 elections while the Congress got two.

Two media persons (TV cameramen) were injured after supporters of the ruling Akali Dal chased them on suspicion and beat them up. Eyewitnesses said the duo were also fired upon in Dhuleke village in Moga district.

But Moga district police chief Ashok Baath said that no firing took place. He said the injured were rushed to hospital and the incident was being investigated.

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