Akali-BJP combine claims victory in violence marred civic polls (Lead)

June 30th, 2008 - 11:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, June 30 (IANS) The ruling Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance in Punjab Monday claimed a ‘landslide’ victory in elections to 87 municipal councils and seven nagar panchayats even as violence marred the polling in several parts across the state. Scores of people were injured as clashes, mainly between the Akalis and Congress supporters and at a few places even between activists of allies Akalis and BJP took place.

The opposition Congress said that the municipal elections were completely rigged by the Akali Dal ‘terrorism’ seen Monday during voting.

Firing incidents, attempts to capture booths and damage to electronic voting machines (EVMs), which were used in the municipal polls for the first time, were reported in practically all 20 districts of Punjab.

Over 78 per cent of the 10 million voters exercised their franchise in the voting process Monday. Counting began almost immediately after the voting and results were pouring in Monday evening.

In Bathinda in south Punjab, supporters of a BJP candidate attacked supporters of the Akali Dal candidate, forcing the police to fire in the air to disperse the clashing mobs.

Polling had to be stopped at dozens of places after clashes and violence.

Three people were injured in Samana town, 50 km from here, and two in Rajpura town in Patiala district, 40 km away, in clashes between activists of the ruling Akali Dal and the Congress.

At Sunam town in Sangrur district, masked men tried to capture a polling booth, leading to a clash. Rival parties resorted to gun-fire at Jagraon town, 45 km from Ludhiana.

Firing incidents were also reported from Banur, 25 km from here. Clashes also took place in Fatehgarh Sahib and Pathankot.

Political activists blocked highways and other roads following clashes during the voting. Commuters on these highways were the worst sufferers.

Violence and booth capturing attempts were also reported from Maur Mandi in Bathinda district in south Punjab and at Jandiala Guru near Amritsar.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and Akali Dal president hailed the “landslide” victory of the Akali Dal-BJP combine in the civic polls.

Congress leaders called the polls a murder of democracy, saying that the Akali Dal-BJP combine unleashed a reign of terror during the elections.

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