Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal during an election rally in Lambi from where he is contesting the assembly elections as a Shiromani Akali Dal candidate. Party president and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal is also seen. (PTI Photo)
Around 30% of around 1.76 crore voters exercised their franchise till noon in the elections to 117-seat Punjab Assembly on Monday which would seal the fate of 1078 candidates including chief ministerial aspirants Parkash Singh Badal and Amarinder Singh.
"The polling percentage is between 26 to 30% till 12pm," Punjab's additional chief electoral officer Raj Kamal Chaudhri said here.
The polling so far is peaceful with no untoward incident reported in the initial four hours of polling, he said.
The polling picked up around noon with a number of people, including women, queueing up before polling stations.
The polling is taking place at 19,841 polling stations across 22 districts of Punjab.
Talking to reporters before leaving for Patiala, state Congress President Amarinder Singh claimed that Haryana's Sirsa headquartered-sect Dera Sacha Sauda was supporting his party.
"The Dera is supporting Congress. The message (from the Dera) has reached the premis (followers) and they are supporting Congress. This was expected the way Akalis had treated the Dera followers," he said.
Singh claimed there was clear wave in his party's favour. "We are winning hands down and as I have said we will cross 70 seats".
"People of Punjab want to oust the Akalis. There has been no development and (Deputy Chief Minister and SAD President) Sukhbir Singh Badal is trying to sell dreams to people. No development can be seen on the ground," the Congress Chief ministerial candidate said.
Over 250 contestants including Amarinder Singh, his wife and Union minister Preneet Kaur, had visited the Dera premises at Sirsa and sought blessings from the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
After casting his vote in his home constituency Lambi's Badal village, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said that SAD-BJP would comfortably win on the basis of development during the past five years.
"Whatever the Congress people may, it doesn't matter. People know that this government has worked for their betterment and today pro-incumbency wave is sweeping the State," the Akali patriarch said.
His son and Deputy, Sukhbir Singh Badal said the people will reject the Congress, which had no agenda for taking Punjab forward.
Earlier, the Badals including the chief minister and Sukhbir arrived together and cast vote in Badal village.
However, Badal family's estranged relative and chief of People's Party of Punjab, Manpreet Singh Badal, whose party is also contesting the Punjab polls, was the first to arrive to cast vote in Badal village.