After a relatively low-profile election campaign, polling for 50 wards of the Bathinda municipal corporation went by and large peaceful on Sunday, rejecting apprehensions of violence and lawlessness witnessed during the last polls in 2008.
With this, the fate of as many as 225 candidates has been locked in electronic voting machines (EVMs) and counting of votes will be done on February 26. A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter, Munish Pandi, was injured in ward I after he was allegedly attacked by some men near Malwa College while he was travelling in Toyota Innova with another person. Jaswinder Singh Mangar, husband of Gurinderpal Kaur Mangar, the BJP candidate from the ward, said Pandi took his car saying that somebody called him and asked to come near the college. “Some people attacked both the occupants in the car and fled after people intervened,” he said. The injured was admitted to the local civil hospital.
Thermal police station station house officer (SHO) Jeet Singh said they have not received any formal complaint in this connection and the police will act following a complaint. Meanwhile, the police have booked two Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders — Pritpal Singh and Hardip Singh — under sections 323, 341, 506, 34 of the Indian Penal Code after they allegedly beat up a journalist of a vernacular newspaper outside a polling station at Government Elementary School, Multania Road.
Two SAD supporters were allegedly beaten up in Deep Singh Nagar that falls under ward 32 on Saturday night. Based on the complaint by Tarsem Singh, the police have booked Tushar, alias Honey, Krishna Singh, Pawan Kumar and Mahesh Kumar and Bhupender Singh under section 279, 324, 323 and 427 of the IPC.
Meanwhile, some people allegedly tried to cast votes using fake identity cards but were spotted by supporters of independent candidate Tej Kaur. They fled from the spot leaving behind the identity cards. An electronic voting machine reportedly developed snag at a polling booth at Paras Ram Nagar. Even the India-South Africa Cricket World Cup match played on Sunday hardly affected the voter turnout as compared to the last election figure which was 65.8%, indicating that the electorate consciously came out to exercise their right to vote.
The election campaign in the city was rather low profile with virtually no involvement of top leaders. Importantly, violence and booth capturing was alleged in several parts of city during the 2008 MC polls and several outsiders and government machinery were allegedly used then.
However, the drubbing faced by SAD-BJP alliance in the city during the parliamentary elections last year with alliance candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal trailing behind Congress-PPP candidate by over 29, 000 votes in Bathinda (urban) assembly segment seems to have brought change in the strategy of the ruling alliance, especially the SAD.