The rural electorate of Punjab turned out in great numbers on Wednesday to elect their panchayats in over 13,000 villages as 84% polling was recorded in the state.
SAS Nagar, Mansa and Fazilka districts recorded a high of 90% polling. Clashes were witnessed in Tarn Taran and Amritsar districts.
Even as the contest in several villages was between the rival groups within the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), both the Congress and SAD claimed victory in the elections that were not contested on party symbols.
The elections were marred by clashes in Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts where 20 people were injured, with six of them suffering bullet injuries in a clash between the two rival SAD groups at Uboke village in Tarn Taran district.
Another clash took place at Sarhali Khurd village in Tarn Taran district, where the state election commission has ordered a re-poll for the entire panchayat.
The re-poll has also been ordered for the post of sarpanch at Bathoi Kalan and Khang villages in Patiala district, and in 20 other wards in various villages for "technical reasons", the commission's spokesman said. The date for the re-poll has not been announced yet.
There was a peculiar trend of the Congress staying away from the contest in some villages of Mukstar, Bathinda and Mansa, where the local SAD rival groups contested against each other.
In the Malwa region, barring stray incidents of violence, the elections passed off peacefully in Bathinda, Mansa, Moga, Muktsar, Faridkot, Fazilka and Ferozepur districts.
Violent clashes, firing and minor skirmishes between the supporters of candidates were reported from Khudian village in Muktsar, Kotla Rai Ka in Faridkot, and Kangar, Teona and Maur in Bathinda.
The polling by and large remained peaceful in the rest of the state with stray incidents of minor skirmishes occurring in Mansa and Muktsar districts.
Jalandhar and other districts in the Doaba region witnessed peaceful elections, as there was no major clash even during the week-long aggressive campaigning.
The polling remained peaceful in the BJP stronghold of Hoshiarpur and Pathankot districts where the party cadres had a keen contest against the Congress.
Badals skip voting
The rank and file of the SAD left no stone unturned to emerge victorious. But, ironically, neither chief minister Parkash Singh Badal nor SAD president and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and his MP wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal cast their vote.
People's Party of Punjab president Manpreet Badal and his father Gurdas Badal also skipped the voting in their native Badal village.
However, Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, cousin of the chief minister, turned up at the polling station along with his family.
DISTRICT WISE POLL PERCENTAGE OF GRAM PANCHAYAT ELECTIONS
SR.NO.NAME OF DISTRICT Final Poll %
1 AMRITSAR 65%
2 AJIT GARH 90%
3 BATHINDA 87%
4 BARNALA 88%
5 FEROZEPUR 84%
6 FARIDKOT 81%
7 FAZLIKA 90%
8 FATEHGARH SAHIB 88%
9 GURDASPUR 47 79%
10 HOSHIARPUR 82%
11 JALANDHAR 80%
12 KAPURTHALA 80%
13 LUDHIANA 80%
14 MOGA 84%
15 MUKTSAR 81%
16 MANSA 90.81%
17 PATIALA 89%
18 PATHANKOT 84%
19 ROOPNAGAR 87.5%
20 SANGRUR 85%
21 SBS NAGAR 85%
22 TARN TARAN 77%
TOTAL OVER ALL PUNJAB