All arrangements have been made for free and fair polls to Tarn Taran and Patti municipal councils and Bhikiwind nagar panchayat on Wednesday.
Besides local police force, around 3,000 additional police personnel, including the Punjab Armed Police (PAP) and the anti-rioting wing of the Punjab Police, have been deployed to ensure that people vote without fear in these three towns.
The main contest for the 23-member Tarn Taran council is between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — the alliance partners in Punjab. While the Akalis have put up candidates in all wards, the BJP is contesting from 19 wards and supporting Independent candidates in four wards. The Congress has fielded candidates in nine wards, while its ally the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) is contesting from only one ward.
The polling will take place in only 14 wards of the 19-member Patti council, with five SAD candidates getting elected unopposed. In Patti, it is a straight contest between the SAD and the Congress in all 14 wards.
However, for the 13-member Bhikiwind nagar panchayat, the contest is between the SAD-BJP combine and the Congress in all 12 wards, while in one ward a SAD candidate was elected unopposed.
Divulging detail of the arrangements, Tarn Taran deputy commissioner-cum-returning officer BS Dhaliwal said other than police personnel in the three towns, around 810 employees would be on poll duty, who after collecting the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and other poll material on Tuesday left for their respective polling booths.
“In Tarn Taran, there are 49 polling booths, of which 25 are hyper sensitive and the remaining are sensitive. In Patti, there are 28 booths, of which 22 are hyper sensitive, while in Bhikiwind there will be 11 booths, with four being declared as hyper sensitive,” said the DC.
Referring to Tarn Taran, Dhaliwal said the town had been divided into two sectors, each under the charge of senior civil administrative officials, and each sector would have a senior superintendent of police (SP)-rank officer for overseeing the security arrangements. “Besides, two DSP-rank officers have been posted in each of the two sectors, who will be assisted by inspector-rank officials,” he added.
The towns have been sealed and cops have stepped up patrolling, especially in Tarn Taran, where the situation is tense following the clash between the SAD and the BJP on February 10.