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Around 77% turnout in Punjab

Amid sporadic violence, nearly 77% of 1.76 crore voters exercised their franchise under tight security to elect 117 members to the Punjab Assembly.



Chandigarh: Amid sporadic violence that
left a 16-year-old boy dead and around 10 injured, nearly 77
per cent of 1.76 crore voters on Monday exercised their franchise
under tight security to elect 117 members to the Punjab
Assembly.

The fate of 1,078 candidates, including two Chief
Ministerial aspirants Parkash Singh Badal of the ruling
SAD-BJP, and Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh was sealed
in Electronic Voting Machines in today`s exercise.

DIG Arpit Shukla told reporters here that teenager
Nishan Singh died of gunshot wounds receieved in a clash
between activists of the ruling SAD and the opposition
Congress in Piareana village in Ferozepur Rural Assembly
constituency.

Two other persons were injured in the incident, he said.
The boy was said to be an Akali worker.

Reports of skirmishes between supporters of rival
candidates were also received from Ludhiana, Bathinda,
Amritsar Central, Abohar and some other districts.

Punjab Chief Electoral Officer Kusumjit Sidhu said the
turnout was 77 per cent which might go up marginally as the
final figures were yet to be tabulated.

In the 2007 assembly election, the turnout was 75.45 per
cent and in `02 it was 65.14 per cent.

Other notable candidates whose fate was sealed in EVMs
were Sukhbir Singh Badal (Jalalabad), Raninder Singh, son of
Amardiner Singh, (Samana), former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal
(Lehra), ex-top cop P S Gill (Moga) and former SGPC chief Bibi
Jagir Kaur (Bholath).

Badal is seeking a fifth-term from his traditional
Lambi Assembly constituency and his predecessor Amarinder from
from Patiala city.
The Akalis alleged the gunshot was fired by Congress
candidate Satkar Kaur`s husband but DIG (Ferozepur) Alok Nath
said "our investigations are on".

Sidhu said nine FIRs were registered in connection with
the clashes at various polling stations in Mohali, Khadoor
Sahab, Amritsar, Ludhiana Central, Abohar, Ajnala and
Bathinda.

In Ludhiana, BJP`s District Yuva Morcha General
Secretary Sanjay Kapoor was injured in a clash with Congress
supporters.

At Bathinda, some miscreants pelted stones at the
office of Dera Sacha Sauda sect on Amrik Singh road.

Police fired in air to disperse supporters of Congress
candidate Sunil Jakhar and an Independent in Abohar.

BJP and Congress supporters also clashed at Amritsar
Central.
A woman voter died in the polling station compound at
Anandpur Sahab. Reports said she died of heart attack.
The counting of votes will take place on March six.

Both the Congress and the SAD exhuded confidence of
forming the government.

Amarinder Singh claimed there was a clear wave in his
party`s favour. "We are winning hands down. We will cross the
70-mark in the 117-member House."

After casting his vote, Parkash Singh Badal said the
SAD-BJP combine would win comfortably on the basis of
development in the state in the past five years.

"People know that this government has worked for their
betterment and today a pro-incumbency wave is sweeping the
state," the Chief Minister said.

His son and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal
said the people would reject the Congress which had no agenda
for taking Punjab forward.

The People`s Party of Punjab, led by former minister
Manpreet Singh Badal, alleged tampering of some EVMs at
Buddhlada.

The state Election Office denied this saying "some
machines from the reserve stock were being adjusted and some
PPP members thought that tampering was going on."

Some machines developed technical faults resulting in
minor disruption of the polling process. These were replaced
immediately.

Manpreet, whose party is also contesting the election,
was the among the early voters in Badal village.

Seeking re-election for the fifth time from Gidderbaha
constituency, he said winds of change were sweeping Punjab
where people were looking for an alternative.

"We will this time break the political monopoly of the
SAD and the Congress. People now have a choice and they will
vote for the Sanja Morcha (Manpreet-led third front that
includes Left parties)."

BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur,
who is fighting as a BJP candidate from Amritsar East, cast
their votes.

Senior Congress leader and Ludhiana MP Manish Tewari
also cast his vote in Ludhiana.

Hoshiarpur district witnessed 72 per cent polling,
Kapurthala over 65 per cent, Gurdaspur 73 per cent, Ferozepur
more than 80 per cent, Fatehgarh Sahib 81 per cent, Amritsar
71 per cent and Sangrur nearly 83 per cent.

Some 30 residents of Bassi Pathana (Reserve)
constituency in Fatehgarh Sahib district boycotted the
polling alleging politicians were making false promises.

Manoj Banda, who was among those who did not vote,
said the area was witnessing an exodus due to limited job
opportunities.

Despite promises by politicians, no new projects
had been unveiled in the constituency, he said.

The group claimed they did not exercise their
franchise during the Lok Sabha election in 2009.

Haryana High Court`s retired Judge Nirmal Singh is
representing the SAD against Congress` Harbans Kaur Dullo,
wife of Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee`s former president
Shamsher Singh Dullo, from the constituency.

PTI

From Zee News

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