Punjab, Chandigarh record 65 percent polling (Roundup)

May 13th, 2009 - 11:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Chandigarh, May 13 (IANS) Nearly 65 percent polling was recorded for nine parliamentary seats in Punjab and one seat in Chandigarh Wednesday as the fifth and final round of voting ended.
Punjab’s Chief Electoral Officer Kusumjit Sidhu said the highest polling of 69 percent was recorded in the newly-created border constituency of Khadoor Sahib.

There were 11.6 million eligible voters in Punjab and 522,650 voters in the union territory of Chandigarh for Wednesday’s polling.

Election officials in Chandigarh said that over 65 percent of the city’s voters came out to vote. This was much higher than the polling percentage of 52 percent in the 2004 general elections.

Election officials said between 40 and 45 percent voting was recorded in Punjab 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.

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

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

Wednesday’s polling would decide the fate of 139 candidates in these nine seats. The highest number of candidates, 30, were fighting for the Ludhiana seat.

Prominent candidates in the fray included 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 Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh shrines, 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, 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 were 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-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine had won 11 seats in the 2004 elections while the Congress got two.

Two mediapersons were injured after supporters of the ruling Akali Dal chased them on suspicion and beat them up. witnesses said the duo was also fired upon in a village in Moga district. The police later registered a case against 30-35 unidentified people.

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

The Punjab Police also booked two sitting Congress legislators, Joginder Pal Jain of Moga and Darshan Singh Brar of Baghapurana.

While Jain was booked for assault and criminal intimidation and also under the Scheduled Castes Act, Brar was booked for forcible entry into a polling station in violation of the Election Commission guidelines.

Minor clashes were reported at a few other places in Punjab but the polling by and large went off peacefully.

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