The stage is all set for the Patiala Urban and Talwandi Sabo assembly byelections as 1.51 lakh voters will decide the fate of eight candidates in the fray in Patiala and 1.45 lakh voters in Talwandi Sabo on Thursday.
UNEASY CALM AT TALWANDI SABO
The Patiala seat has been lying vacant since former chief minister Amarinder Singh resigned as MLA two months ago after he was elected member of Parliament from Amritsar.
The Talwandi Sabo seat fell vacant after Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu resigned as Congress MLA and joined SAD before the recently-held parliamentary elections.
As many as 170 polling stations have been set across the constituency, while more than 3,000 civil employees and police and paramilitary personnel will guard these polling booths. There are 79,476 lakh male and 71,985 lakh female voters, who will cast their vote when the polling starts at 7am.
While distributing Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and other election-related material to poll officials, Patiala deputy commissioner-cum-district electoral officer Varun Roojam instructed the staff to be fair, honest and independent while discharging poll duties.
Out of 170 booths, 25 polling stations have been labelled critically sensitive, 124 are ‘hyper sensitive’ while 21 are ‘sensitive’.
“To ensure free and fair election process, three different teams of flying squad and video and static surveillance teams have been working vigorously to keep a check on the flow of drugs and money. Besides this, the polling activities in every ward will be closely video graphed,” Roojam said. He added that micro observers would keep a hawk eye on the activities in sensitive and hypersensitive booths till the election process ended on Thursday. Adequate security arrangement made SSP Hardial Singh Mann said adequate security arrangements had been made to keep a check on anti-state elements across the constituency.
Uneasy calm prevailed in Talwandi Sabo assembly constituency on Wednesday following a clash between supporters of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) at Jaga Ram Tirath village and tension in Shekhpura village.
A clash broke out between AAP and SAD supporters at Jaga Ram Tirath village, the native village of AAP candidate Baljinder Kaur, who alleged that Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member from Muktsar district Dayal Singh Kolianwali, along with other SAD workers, attacked her and her driver Gurbaksh Singh in the village in the morning.
In a complaint to the police, she alleged that Kolianwali, along with SAD supporters, was intimidating the village residents against voting for her and she noticed it as she was returning from a local gurdwara.
“I informed the district administration officials about this and waited for some time so that any official could check it. But, as none of the officials arrived there, I intervened and urged Kolianwali not to indulge in such activities,” she said.
“Meanwhile, Punjab Police security guards accompanying Koliwanwali, tried to attack me, and, as my driver intervened, he was beaten up by the guards. The driver was later taken to a hospital at Talwandi Sabo,” she alleged. Later, AAP leader Jarnail Singh submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner-cum- district election officer Basant Garg, demanding registration of an FIR against Kolianwali and others.