Chandigarh: Barring two incidents of firing with no loss of life and some cases of technical snags in voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines, which delayed the polling process at some booths, the much hyped polling for 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Saturday concluded on a peaceful note. As much as 78.62 per cent of 1.98 crore electors exercised their franchise.
Fate of 1,145 candidates in EVMs
Counting of votes on March 11
Punjab Assembly has 117 members
Highest 87.34 per cent poll in Mansa
Lowest 71.97 per cent polling in Mohali
“As much as 78.62 per cent polling has taken place,” Chief Election Officer (CEO) V K Singh said. He said that nearly 70 per cent polling had taken place by 5 pm, which further went up to 78.62 per cent. The poll percentage in the last Assembly elections held in 2012 was 78.60 per cent. Accompanied by ADGP, Elections, V K Bhawra, CEO said: “Barring stray incidents of violence the polling in single-phase remained peaceful in the state.” He said that an incident of firing was reported from Lalu Ghuman in Tarn Taran assembly constituency where scuffle took place between supporters of two rival groups over the issue of fake votes of some voters. Firing was reported in which one Jagjit Singh got his leg injured.
“An FIR has been registered at Police Station Jhabal against the sarpanch of the village. Polling, however, did not get disrupted,” said Bhawra. He said that another similar incident occurred in Ruppawali village polling station in assembly constituency of Fatehgarh Churian where two rival political parties entered into the tussle over the biased role of the presiding officers regarding casting of fake votes. No one was injured.
Bhawra said that in Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district a dispute arose between supporters of two candidates over allegedly casting of fake votes which resulted in injury to two persons, Shamsher Singh and Kulwant Singh, both residents of Padda. An incident of firing in air was also reported from Guruharsahai Assembly constituency in the afternoon but as there was no eye witness to it, the police registered an FIR against unidentified persons and launched the probe.
In a yet another incident which occurred in Zirakpur where two unknown persons scuffled at Lohgarh village in Zirakpur of Derabassi assembly constituency in Mohali district, where the police were rushed to deal with the situation. “There were allegations of firing but those could not be verified through local people and the firing incident was also not substantiated. It had no impact on polling,” added Bhawra.
In Majitha, a heated exchange of words took place between Bikram Singh Majithia (SAD) and Sukhjinder Raj Singh Lalli Majithia (Cong) after the former raised objection over allegedly bringing vehicles inside the polling station. A minor clash took place between Congress and BJP workers at Preet Nagar of Jalandhar Central constituency. In Kotkapura also, a minor clash between SAD and AAP workers was reported. At Killianwali, an SAD worker was hit in head. At Kalanaur in Batala, AAP and Congress workers tussled among themselves and police used mild force to diffuse the tension. Some unconfirmed reports of tension also came from Samrala village in Bhoa Assembly segment in Pathankot district and Atta village in Phillaur. A 35-year-old man identified as Prakash of Bhim Nagar in Jalandhar reportedly died due to suspected cardiac arrest after casting his vote at Bashirpura.
There were as many as 1,129 model polling stations and 96 all women polling stations in the state. The Election Commission had deployed 8,166 micro-observers in addition to 100 other observers of ECI to ensure the poll process passes off peacefully.
EC experimented VVPAT machines for the first time with putting 6,668 such machines in 33 selected constituencies. As many as 538 VVPAT machines were replaced and 187 were replaced during the polling especially in Majitha, Muktsar and Sangrur districts.
All this delayed the polling at 25 booths of Majitha, 10 each in Muktsar and Sangrur, with also some problem reported in Bathinda and Barnala districts. Further, as many as 195 EVM machines were replaced during mock trial. In all, 1.28 lakh polling personnel with over 31,000 CAPF security personnel and 55,000 Punjab Police personnel were on the job to ensure smooth conduct of polling.
ALL HOPEFUL OF VICTORY
Talking to reporters after casting his vote at Lambi, the 89-year-old and five-time Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said: “I have 70 years of experience and have fought for Punjab and India. This is a small battle.” Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal claimed that SAD-BJP would have a bigger win this time than the last time. “AAP will finish at third number as people will vote for development, peace and communal harmony. People know that the AAP is a pack of criminals.”
Congress’ chief ministerial candidate Captain Amarinder Singh said that his party was leading in the entire state and was set to form the government. He claimed that he would also win from Lambi, defeating Chief Minister Badal. AAP’s most popular Punjabi face Bhagwant Mann, who is contesting against Sukhbir from Jalalabad, also thanked the voters and claimed the party was all set to form the government.