All arrangements have been made for counting of votes Tuesday for 117 assembly seats in Punjab, Election Commission officials said Monday evening.The counting begins at 8 a.m.The fate of 1,078 candidates, including 93 women and 417 independents, will be decided Tuesday. Voting was held in the state on January 30.Most results are expected to be declared later in the afternoon, a senior official said.There are 52 counting centres across the state.Nearly 78 percent of the 17.6 million voters in the state exercised their franchise Jan 30. The voting percentage was an all-time record in assembly polls in the state.The main contest is between the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance and the Congress. A third front, Sanjha Morcha, which was formed recently and is led by former finance minister Manpreet Badal’s People’s Party of Punjab (PPP), added a new dimension to the state’s politics.Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal faces his toughest political test as he was pitted against his own younger brother, Gurdas Badal, 81, of PPP and cousin Maheshinder Singh Badal of Congress in a bitter triangular contest for Lambi seat in southwest Punjab.Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh contested the Patiala-Urban seat while Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, also the deputy chief minister, contested from Jalalabad in Faridkot district.Other prominent leaders in the fray include PPP president Manpreet Badal (Gidderbaha and Maur), former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Congress, Lehragaga seat) and Raninder Singh (Amarinder’s son. Congress, Samana).After the 2007 polls, the Akali Dal had 49 legislators with alliance partner BJP winning another 19 seats (total tally 68). The Congress had 44 legislators while five seats were won by independents.
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