CHANDIGARH: Despite a cold wave in the state, Punjab on Saturday saw over 78.62 per cent voter turnout accompanied by stray incidents of violence and some technical glitches.
The highest polling was reported from Mansa district 87.34 per cent, while Mohali district recorded the lowest 71.97 per cent. The Malwa region the voting, as usual, was the highest (Ferozepur 83 per cent,
Fazilka 83.48 per cent, Muktsar 85.25 per cent, Faridkot 83.67 per cent, Bathinda 82.35 per cent), Mansa 87.34 per cent, Sangrur 83 per cent, Barnala 80.4 per cent and Patiala 78.6 per cent). At a few places, there were reports of voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) developing snags which were later replaced with conventional EVMs.
Chief Electoral Officer of Punjab, VK Singh said 33 constituencies were covered by new transparent systems and 6,668 VVPAT machines for the first time in the country. He indicated during mock trial, 538 VVPAT machines were replaced and 187 were replaced during the conduct of poll, especially in Majitha, Muktsar and Sangrur Districts.
The state also witnessed stray incidents of violence. VK Bhawra, ADGP and Nodal Officer for elections, said an incident of firing has been reported from Lalu Ghuman in Tarn Taran constituency where scuffle took place between supporters of two rival groups over the issue of fake votes.
In one incident of firing, a man named Jagjit Singh was injured. A case was registered at the Jhabal police station against the Sarpanch of the village. Polling, however, did not get disrupted.
A similar incident occurred in a village named Ruppawali in the Fatehgarh Churian constituency where two rival political parties entered into a tussle over fake votes. One of the candidates demanded a change of presiding officer but refused to give it in writing. No injuries have been reported.
Bhawra said in Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, a dispute arose between supporters of two candidates over alleged fake votes causing injuries to two people. An incident of firing in air has also been reported from Guru Harsahai assembly constituency in the afternoon. Preliminary investigations have commenced in the matter.
Meanwhile, Congress and Akali Dal workers clashed at the Killanwali village in Lambi constituency, where Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Punjab Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh are in the fray. Two people were injured in a clash between the AAP and the Congress workers at Sultanpur village in Sangrur district. In Moga, the EC has sought a report regarding the EVM displaying 50 extra votes at polling booth no 145.
Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh and his wife Preneet Kaur cast their votes. Cricketer Harbhajan Singh along with his mother Avtar Kaur also exercised their franchise. There is a three-cornered contest between the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance, the opposition Congress and the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party.
SAD has fielded candidate in 94 seats while its ally BJP has fielded 23 candidates. Congress is contesting alone in all the 117 seats. While AAP has fielded 112 candidates, its ally Lok Insaf Party is contesting on five seats. BSP, Apna Punjab Party, left parties comprising CPI and CPI-M, and SAD-Amritsar are also in the fray.