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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

Over 70% polling recorded in Punjab

Gurpreet Singh Nibber HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, April 30, 2014
First Published: 19:43 IST(30/4/2014) | Last Updated: 10:19 IST(1/5/2014)

There was a record 70% voter turnout in Punjab on Wednesday where the fiercely-fought contest on all 13 seats remained by and large peaceful, barring stray incidents of violence.

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In the morning, voting began on a brisk note and had touched 25% by 11am and 40% by 1pm. As the day progressed and the mercury soared, polling slowed down. Voters were inside the booths way after the cut-off time of 6pm.

The contest which started between the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress at the start of the campaigning eight weeks ago later became three-cornered in most constituencies with the entry of the Aam Aadmi Party.

Barring incidents of assault on Patiala AAP candidate Dr Dharamvira Gandhi and breaking of an electronic voting machine at a polling booth in the same constituency, the polling remained peaceful.

Rajinder Singh Virk, a SAD councillor, was booked for allegedly attacking Gandhi leading to injuries on the face. Four polling booths in the state are expected to go for a re-poll.

Additional chief electoral officer (CEO) B Purushartha said, "It was a peaceful election as compared to the 2012 assembly polls when 44 FIRs were registered; on Wednesday only four FIRs were registered."

CEO VK Singh said the turnout this time was better than the 70% in the 2009 parliamentary polls. "The exact poll percentage will be known only by Thursday; it could have been still better had the heat wave and wheat harvesting not kept voters away," he added. The voting turnout in the 2012 assembly polls was 78.6%.

High turnout of voters was attributed to the awareness campaign launched by the Election Commission and the large participation by the youth due to the AAP joining the bandwagon.

In the 2009 polls, the SAD had won four seats, the BJP one and the Congress eight.

There were several reports of poll-related skirmishes from almost all constituencies and those of minor scuffles from Patiala, Amritsar, Ferozepur, Ludhiana and Gurdaspur constituencies.

Badal under scanner
The Election Commission has initiated action against Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for his controversial speech in Jalandhar on April 11 when he had asked industrialists to give donations for polls in "crores". Badal has been told to explain it by May 2.

Also, on Tuesday night, the EC passed orders restricting the movement of chief parliamentary secretary Gurbachan Singh Babehali and MLA Dinesh Babbu. Both belong to the SAD. Former ministers whose movement was restricted included Sucha Singh Langah, Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal and Nirmal Singh Kahlon.

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