Candidates of various political parties have gone all out to ensure win in these municipal elections in the historic town of Malerkotla, which is known for its caste based politics.
Muslims contribute 70% of the total 83,000 voters in the town.
Though the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal's (SAD's) Nesara Khatoon defeated two-time Congress MLA Razia Sultana from Malerkola in the 2012 assembly elections, party's candidates in these municipal polls are facing a tough task to persuade the Muslim vote bank, despite having most of its candidates from the community.
The murder of the 12-year-old boy, Vidhu Jain, may also dent the winning prospects of the SAD.
Jains are reportedly not happy with the ruling SAD as the Malerkotla police failed to trace the culprits of the year-old Vidhu Jain murder case.
On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling Akalis' coalition partner, does not have big vote share in Malerkotla.
Interestingly, the Congress, which used to enjoy good supports from the Muslims in the past elections, is also fighting a tough battle in several wards from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that had made inroads into the Muslim area in the last general elections.
This time AAP supporters are backing Independents, who are aiming to keep both the SAD and the Congress away from the president's chair.
Malerkotla is one of the towns where social security is a major issue during elections. Communal tensions have become regular in the town, leaving shopkeepers on their toes. Security for girls is another cause of concern.
People from Hindu community, a minority in the area, had recently objected to delimitation of wards, alleging their families had been separated from by inducting them in Muslim-dominated wards.
Increasing number of stray animals, especially cows, is a major problem not only for the residents of Malerkotla but also for the police. Any incident involving cows takes communal colours, creating panic in the town and putting police on high alert.
A senior police officer said the number of cows has increased manifold in the past few years.
The Malerkotla police have written to the district administration and gaushala committees several times, but in vain.
Even chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had in 2013 announced `5 crore on providing sewerage facilities to the wards of Malerkotla city.
Sewerage and cleanliness
Sewerage is another big issue in this overcrowded town that houses a large number of small-scale industrial units. Malerkotla is also known for manufacturing cycle parts and agricultural implements.
Recently, repairing and cleaning of the sewerage was stopped midway following recovery of carcasses. Heaps of garbage lie unattended at public places and on the road sides in absence of concrete steps to deal with this problem.
Narrow streets and bad roads
Encroachments by shopkeepers in main markets also add to woes of Malerkotla residents. Also, the roads rate in a dilapidated condition. Due to lack of sewerage, the main market becomes water-logged during rainy season.
Poor women literacy rate
The Malerkotla has fared well on the sex ratio (950 girls behind 1,000 boys), but the city lags behind in the women literacy rate (65%) despite having several madrasas, schools and colleges. There are only 700 Muslim girls in the three colleges of the town of one-lakh-strong Muslim population.
Malerkotla MC in numbers
Total wards: 33
Reserved (SC): 2
Total voters: 83,024
Last election results
Total wards: 31
Poor literacy rate of women
Mismanagement of Garbage
Proper sewerage system is the need of the hour. Due to lack of sewerage, the town has become a dumping yard. Our leaders should focus on cleanliness in the town. Vikash Kapila, local businessman
We want repairing and widening of all main roads of the town. Several roads in Malerkotla have not been repaired for long
Mohammad Ashfak, Young social worker
Steps should be taken to improve the standard of girl education. Our leaders should also take steps to ensure women's safety so that people could send their girls out for education
Rubina Rawat, teacher
I want our leaders to bring about overall development in Malerkotla, as the residents still don't have basic amenities like safe drinking water, sewerage, roads and quality education for their children
Jaspreet Kaur, housewife