An electorate of around 26.67 lakh will, on Wednesday, decide the fate of 6,573 candidates in fray for the post of sarpanch and another 27,171 contesting for the post of panch in 2,960 villages of Majha, comprising Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran and Pathankot. As many as 543 panches and around 2,650 panches have been elected unopposed, all aligned with the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP alliance.
Arrangements for poll conduct have been completed with the polling material having reached their assigned polling stations on Tuesday evening.
Police parties have also arrived at the polling stations and have cordoned these areas, not allowing anyone, except polling staff inside. The state government has declared a public holiday for Wednesday to enable all eligible voters to exercise their franchise. Polling will commence at 8 am and end at 4 pm. However, all voters who are inside the premises of polling stations will be allowed to cast their votes even after 4 pm. Results will be out late Wednesday.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of the polling process.
Booths have been categorised into hyper-sensitive, sensitive and normal, with additional cops being stationed in the hyper sensitive booths. In addition to the static staff on duty at polling booths, around 100 patrol parties will be on the move throughout the day to maintain law and order.
Though the elections are not being fought on the election symbols of political parties, but still the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress have lent their support to their respective candidates. With the SAD-BJP alliance keen to have their sarpanch in every village of Majha, the Congress is concentrating on getting the maximum possible panches elected
In Amritsar, 816 polling booths have been set up in the areas under the jurisdiction of the Amritsar rural police district. Of these, 84 have been identified as hyper-sensitive, 221 as sensitive and the remaining as normal. Another 22 booths are in the urban areas, that is within the jurisdiction of the Amritsar Commissionerate. Of these 13 are hyper sensitive and nine have been listed as sensitive. The electorate will chose their sarpanches from among 1931 candidates and panches from among 8,591 candidates. As many as 6,700 persons have been put on polling duty which include presiding officers and assistant presiding officers.
Gurdaspur SSP Sukhwant Singh Gill said that that elaborate security arrangements had been made. He said that Dhariwal, Dinanagar and Kanuwan blocks had been declared hyper-sensitive. He said that there were a total of 668 polling stations and 801 polling booths, of which 92 were declared hyper-sensitive, 349 super sensitive and 227 very sensitive. He said that 34 patrolling parties had been deputed to cover all the 3,855 panchayats where polling is taking place.
Gill said that there would be enough reserve police force which will be rushed to areas where there is trouble. DC Abhinav Trikha said that 7, 585 employees had been deployed.
A total of 688 polling booths have been set up in the 428 villages where polling will take place. A number of booths in Tarn Taran, Khadoor Sahib and Khem Karan areas have been declared hyper-sensitive and sensitive and additional police manpower has been stationed at these More than 5,600 personnel have been deployed on poll duty, and 50 supervisors had alo been deployed. Besides cordoning off the polling stations, patrol parties have been directed to move out to the village to instill a sense of confidence among the voters.
Necessary arrangements have been made at all 432 polling booths in the village where polling will take place. Around 3,000 personnel will be on polling duty and the supervisory staff will remain on the move to ensure that the polling process goes on smoothly. The police too has fanned out into the villages and taken control of the polling booths. The police has made special arrangements along the borders with Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh to ensure that 'unauthorised' people are not brought in as voters.