NEW DELHI: Punjab and Uttarakhand will go to polls on Monday to elect new assemblies with the Congress hoping to oust the Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine in Punjab and the BJP in the hill state.
According to the Election Commission, over 1.76 crore voters are eligible to vote in the 117 constituencies of Punjab in the second round of five-state elections that began Saturday. The voter population is around 6.3 million in Uttarakhand, which has a 70-member House.
"All arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of the election process. The polling teams have reached their destinations," Punjab's chief electoral officer Kusumjit Sidhu said here.
Voting will start at 8 am and will continue till 5 pm. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will be used at all the 19,841 polling stations.
Of the 1,078 candidates in the fray in Punjab, 417 are independents. There are 93 women candidates.
The Election Commission has deployed around 200 companies of paramilitary forces to oversee the Punjab ballot. Nearly 71,000 security personnel will be on duty for the smooth conduct of elections.
The Congress led by former chief minister Amarinder Singh has levelled major charges of corruption and mis-governance against the government of Parkash Singh Badal.
Many seats will see a triangular contest between the ruling SAD-BJP alliance, the Congress and the Sanjha Morcha, which includes the Left and newly-floated People's Party of Punjab (PPP) led by Manpreet Badal, a nephew of the chief minister who broke away from the Akali Dal.
The main contestants include Badal (Lambi), Amarinder Singh (Patiala urban), Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal (Jalalabad), Manpreet Badal (Gidderbaha and Maur) and Amarinder's son Raninder Singh (Samana).
Congress leader and former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has been fielded from Lehragaga.
Two former officials - DS Guru who was principal secretary to the chief minister and PS Gill who was a director general of police - are contesting from Bhadaur and Moga respectively.
In Uttarakhand, Chief Minister BC Khanduri, who replaced Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank last year after corruption allegations, is trying to defend the turf for the BJP.
Mr Khanduri, a BJP candidate from Kotdwar, is pitted against Congress nominee Surendra Singh Negi.
Dissent within BJP ranks could affect the party's prospects, party sources admit.
Manipur went to the polls on Saturday. Uttar Pradesh will see a seven-phase balloting from February 8 to March 3. Goa will see a one-day poll March 3.
Votes in all five states will be counted March 6.