Polling begins in Punjab, Chandigarh

May 13th, 2009 - 9:02 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Chandigarh, May 13 (IANS) Amidst hope of high voter turnout, polling in nine parliamentary constituencies of Punjab and the lone seat of the union territory of Chandigarh began Wednesday morning for the the fifth and final round of the general elections.
People in rural areas of Punjab could be seen queuing up to cast their vote even before pollign stations opened at 7 a.m. The enthusiasm was not as much in most urban polling centres across the state.

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 from the Chandigarh seat though Bansal’s main contest is with Satya Pal Jain of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Chandigarh has a total electorate of 522,650. The voting percentage in the 2004 elections was just 52 percent.

The nine seats in Punjab that go to polls Wednesday include 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, is in the Ludhiana parliamentary seat.

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

Four seats in the state - Bathinda, Patiala, Sangrur and Ferozepur - had gone to polls May 7. Punjab has a total of 13 parliamentary seats.

Punjab had recorded a high polling percentage of 73.5 percent in the May 7 poll. The polling in the 2004 general elections was less than 62 percent.

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

Punjab’s electorate of over 11.6 million will be able to vote in 13,152 polling centres. There are 14,480 electronic voting machines (EVMs) for this purpose, Punjab’s chief electoral officer Kusumjit Sidhu said here.

Over 52,000 civil employees will supervise polling.

Nearly 53,000 Punjab police personnel and 165 companies of para-military forces will provide security, said Director General of Police K.K. Attri.

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