Over 10 pc polling in Punjab, Chandigarh till 1000 hrs
Chandigarh, May 19 (UNI) Over 10 per cent voters have exercised their franchise in all 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab and lone Chandigarh parliamentary constituency till 1000 hrs.
Polling in 13 parliamentary constituencies of Punjab and also for lone Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat began at 0700 hrs on Sunday.
Polling in Anandpur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Khadoor Sahib, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Bathinda, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Sangrur and Hoshiarpur will conclude at 1800 hours.
A total of 2,07,81,211 electors, including 98,29,916 female and 560 transgenders, will decide the fate of 278 candidates, including 24 female, who are in the fray in 13 Lok Sabha seats of Punjab.
Maximum 31 candidates are contesting in Amritsar Lok Sabha seat and minimum eight candidates are in electoral battle in Hoshiarpur parliamentary constituency.
The Election Commission has deployed over 1.25 lakh employees and over one lakh police officers for free and fair polling in the state. As many as 42,689 ballot units and 28,703 VVPAT would be used in the election.
Though there is multi-cornered contest between the Congress, SAD-BJP alliance, AAP and Punjab Democratic Front (PDA), consisting of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Left parties, Punjab Ekta Party and Lok Insaaf Party, the main electoral battle is between the Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance, in most of the seats.
Prominent SAD-BJP alliance candidates, who are in the fray, include Union Ministers Hardeep Puri (Amritsar) and Harsimrat Kaur Badal (Bathinda), actor-turned-politician Sunny Deol (Gurdaspur), SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal (Ferozepur) and former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur (Khadoor Sahib).
Besides, former Union minister Manish Tewari (Anandpur Sahib) of Congress; Preneet Kaur, wife of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh (Patiala) of Congress; Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar (Gurdaspur); Punjab Ekta Party chief Sukhpal Singh Khaira (Bathinda); human rights activist and PEP nominee Paramjit Kaur Khalra (Khadoor Sahib) and AAP leader Bhagwant Mann (Sangrur) are also in the fray.
All parties campaigned aggressively in the state to lure the voters in their favour.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani, apart from other Union Ministers, Shiromani Akali Dal patron Parkash Singh Badal and party president Sukhbir Singh Badal held rallies and road shows, seeking votes for the SAD-BJP alliance.
Bollywood actor and BJP candidate for Gurdaspur Lok Sabha Sunny Deol added star power to the campaign as besides him, his father Dharmendra and step-mother Hema Malini also canvassed in the state.
The SAD-BJP leaders highlighted the achievements of NDA government and failures of the Congress government in Punjab and also the controversial statement made by Overseas Congress chief Sam Pitroda, over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
For the Congress, its chief Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and state Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu addressed the election rallies and held road shows, to drum up support in favour of the party candidates. They prominently raked up issues of unemployment, farm distress and also incidents of sacrilege in their meetings, to lure the voters.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati held an election rally in favour of PDA candidates, while AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia also campaigned in the state, for the party candidates.
The SAD had bagged four seats (Ferozepur, Bathinda, Khadoor Sahib and Anandpur Sahib), while its partner BJP won two seats (Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur), followed by Aam Adami Party, which emerged victorious on four seats (Faridkot, Sangrur, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib) and the Congress could get only three seats (Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar) in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Nearly 10.40 per cent voters have caste their votes on 597 polling booths in Chandigarh till 1000 hrs.
There are 6.46 lakh voters, including 3.42 lakh male and 3.04 lakh female, in the Union Territory.
Though there are 36 candidates, including nine female, in the fray but the main contest is between sitting BJP MP Kirron Kher and her rivals- former Union ministers Pawan Kumar Bansal of Congress and Harmohan Dhawan of AAP.