1.76 crore Punjab residents to vote Monday

January 29th, 2012 - 8:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Chandigarh, Jan 29 (IANS) Over 1.76 crore voters are eligible for casting their vote during the one-day election to 117 assembly seats in Punjab Monday (Jan 30), Election Commission (EC) officials said here Sunday.

“All arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of the election process. The polling teams have reached their respective destinations,” state chief electoral officer Kusumjit Sidhu said.

Voting will start at 8 a.m. Monday and will continue officially till 5 p.m. Electronic Voting machines (EVMs) will be used at all the 19,841 polling stations.

The results of assembly poll will be announced after counting on March 6.

The main contest is between the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance and the opposition Congress. A third front, Sanjha Morcha, has been formed recently and is led by former finance minister Manpreet Badal’s newly floated People’s Party of Punjab (PPP).

Five assembly constituencies — Patiala, Lambi, Bholath, Majithia and Jalalabad — have been declared hyper-sensitive while 33 other constituencies have been declared as sensitive by the EC.

Over 200 companies of para-military forces have been stationed in the state along with the state police and other agencies to ensure smooth and peaceful polling.

The fate of 1,078 candidates, including 93 women and 417 independents, will be sealed in the EVMs Monday.

According to the CEO office, the total number of voters is 17,683,559 out of which 8,361,014 are women voters.

The highest number of candidates, 16 each, are in the Jalalabad, Ludhiana-east and Patiala rural seats. The lowest number of candidates, four, are in fray in the Attari seat in border area of Amritsar district.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is facing his toughest political test as he faces his own younger brother, Gurdas Badal, 81, of the PPP and cousin Maheshinder Singh Badal of the Congress in a bitter triangular contest.

Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh is seeking re-election from the Patiala Urban seat while Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the deputy chief minister, is seeking re-election from the Jalalabad seat in Faridkot district.

Other prominent leaders in the fray include PPP president Manpreet Badal (Gidderbaha and Maur), former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Congress, Lehragana seat) and Amarinder’s son Raninder Singh (Congress, Samana seat).

In the 2007 assembly polls, the Akali Dal had 49 legislators with alliance partner BJP winning another 19 seats (total tally 68). The Congress had 44 legislators while five seats were won by Independents.

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