Up to 15 percent voting in Punjab, Chandigarh till 10 a.m. (Lead)

May 13th, 2009 - 12:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Chandigarh, May 13 (IANS) Between 10-15 percent voting was recorded in the nine parliamentary constituencies of Punjab and the lone seat in Chandigarh in the first three hours (till 10 a.m.) of polling Wednesday.
Amidst hope of high voter turnout, polling in nine parliamentary constituencies of Punjab and one seat in the union territory of Chandigarh began Wednesday morning for 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 polling stations opened at 7 a.m. Urban voters seemed less enthusiastic compared to their rural counterparts.

The nine constituencies in Punjab that are going to the polls 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 elections for the Ludhiana parliamentary 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).

BJP’s Amritsar seat candidate Navjot Singh 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. Less than 62 percent 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 from the Chandigarh seat though Bansal’s main contest is with Satya Pal Jain of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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

Four seats in the state - Bathinda, Patiala, Sangrur and Ferozepur - went to polls May 7. Punjab has 13 parliamentary seats.

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 cast 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 are superivising the polling.

Nearly 53,000 Punjab police personnel and 165 companies of paramilitary forces are providing security, said Director General of Police K.K. Attri.

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