Political analysts would be hard pressed to explain a record turnout for what was billed as a “no-wave” election” in Punjab.
Voting was brisk since the early hours of Monday, and by 5 pm, 77% polling was recorded — higher than even the 75.47% mark of the 2007 polls.
The number may go further up, as the authorities were still busy gathering final figures. The counting of votes takes place on March 6.
Though the state has a tradition of voting out the party in power, the ruling SAD-BJP combine has put up a strong fight against a resurgent Congress.
In the 2007 polls, the SAD won 49 seats and the BJP 19 in the 117-seat House. The Congress had got 44 seats and remaining five went to Independents. This time, 1,078 contestants are in the fray.
Political analysts, however, had found dampeners in the absence of strong anti-incumbency and the Election Commission’s (EC) clampdown on use of money and liquor.As of now, the turnout is being attributed to the EC awareness drive, an unusually high youth participation and the presence of a third force in Sanjha Morcha.
Besides the two CM aspirants — Parkash Singh Badal of SAD-BJP and Amarinder Singh of Congress — other notable candidates include Sukhbir Singh Badal (Jalalabad), Raninder Singh, son of Amarinder Singh (Samana), former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Lehra), ex-top cop PS Gill (Moga) and former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur (Bholath).
The polling was peaceful barring some stray incidents and nine FIRs were registered for poll-related violence.
There were reports of minor scuffles in Amritsar, Gurdaspur, SAS Nagar, Khadoor Sahib, Nabha, Ludhiana, Abohar, Ajnala, Bathinda and Lambi.
A 17-year-old boy, Nishan Singh, was killed by a bullet allegedly fired by the husband of Satkar Kaur, the Congress candidate from Ferozepur Rural. In Anandpur Sahib, a woman died of heart attack outside a polling station.
The highest turnout — 90% — was in Guru Har Sahai segment and the lowest — 56% — was reported in Amritsar Central seat.
Weather plays its part, 70% turn out
Dehradun: Clear sky, sunshine and possible anti-incumbency pushed Uttrakhand en masse to the voting booths on Monday. The sluggish figures of the morning picked up soon and by 5 pm, 70% voting was recorded — beating the last year’s 63%.The counting will be held on March 6, said chief election officer Radha Raturi.
This election is significant for the state, as it is the first after a delimitation process. The realignment of the constituencies has shifted the power balance in favour of the plains.
Polling began at 8 am, and the clear skies belied the snow warning of the Met department.
Around 63 lakh voters were to exercise their franchise in the elections where the ruling BJP is locked in a close fight with the Congress. Altogether, 788 candidates are in the fray for 70 assembly seats.
The BJP has 36 members in the outgoing assembly, followed by the Congress with 20, BSP with eight and Uttarakhand Kranti Dal with three members. There are three Independents as well.
The key players include, CM BC Khanduri from Kotdwar, former CM Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank from Doiwala, leader of the opposition HS Rawat from Rudraprayag and PCC chief Yashpal Arya from Baajpur.
Khanduri, Nishank, former CM Nityanand Swami and ND Tiwari, and assembly speaker Harbans Kapoor were among those who braved the morning chill to cast their votes.
“I have gone to town and the village areas and people are coming in large numbers and that’s a good signal,” Khanduri said. “We feel we will form the government comfortably, but again, it’s for the people to decide.”
A total of 75 companies of CRPF personnel and 12,000 home guards were deployed for the election and 9,789 polling booths were set up. Of them, 1,794 were declared as sensitive and 1,252 as hyper-sensitive."Polling has been peaceful and not even a minor incident of violence was reported. There would be no repoll," said Raturi.