With the enthusiasm shown by the young voters, the polling percentage went up by 5.45% when compared to 2009 elections as a total of 70.22 % votes were polled for the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat on Wednesday.
The polling percentage in 2009 was 64.77 percent as compared to 55.69 percent in 2004. Though the closure of all the government offices, educational institutions in addition to the commercial establishments added to the deserted look in the city, but all roads led to the polling stations that witnessed enthusiastic electorates exercising their right to vote.
Polling booths in rural areas buzzed with activity right from7 am as residents in villages falling under rural assembly segments such as Gill, Dakha and Jagraon started queuing up since early morning to cast their vote. The polling in city constituencies was slow in the first two hours but picked up as the day progressed.
It was an electrified atmosphere around the polling stations as the discussions revolved around the contestants of political parties and their policies and prospects.
People working in other parts of the country or overseas had specially come on leave to cast their vote. While there were many who had rescheduled their overseas visits, business meetings and excursions after the announcement of the date of elections.
For a change, members of elite families could be seen shedding their inhibitions to partake of in the election process which included extending support to the candidates by sitting on their booths outside the polling stations.
The seat consists of nine assembly segments out of which Ludhiana East, Gill, Jagraon and Dakha have SAD legislators, while Ludhiana West, Ludhiana North, Ludhiana Central have Congress legislators, besides independent legislators from Ludhiana South and Atam Nagar assembly seats.
In violation of the model code of conduct, the vehicles owned by the supporters of independent candidate Simarjit Singh Bains were allegedly ferrying people to the polling stations. The practice is banned by the ECI as it is an indirect attempt to influence the voters. It is also alleged that supporters of Congress and SAD had also made “pick up” arrangements for electorate living in slums.
BOOTHS SET UP BY PARTIES
Presence of the prominent party leaders at the booths outside the polling stations added to the charm of elections.
In clear contrast to the well structured booths of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Manpreet Singh Ayali, Congress candidate Ravneet Singh Bittu and independent candidate Simarjit Singh Bains and HS Phoolka of the Aam Aadmi Party had simple banners in the name of booths.
Heavy weights like adviser to Punjab CM Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, SAD (urban) president Hira Singh Gabria, MLAs Darshan Singh Shivalik, Ranjit Singh Dhillon, SR Kler could be seen at the party booths.
Similarly, the Congress MLAs including Gurkirat Kotli (Ravneet Bittu’s cousin), Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Surinder Dawar and district Congress presidents (rural/urban) Malkiat Singh Dakha and Pawan Dewan were also seen taking feedback from the party cadres present at the booths.
MIGRANTS EXERCISE THEIR RIGHT
Though a massive chunk of migrant population working in industry and fields has left Ludhiana due to the harvesting season, the remaining showed extraordinary zeal for voting. Also, a large number of doctors, professors, IT professionals, traders, managers in industry from outside the state, who are now settled in Ludhiana, also voted for their preferred candidates.
The presence of paramilitary forces was not just an eyewash as the armed personnel kept a hawk’s eye on the movement of every individual coming inside the polling stations.