Amid reports of clashes between ruling Congress and Opposition party, Shiromani Akali Dal, polling to the Zila Parishads and Panchayat Samitis took place across Punjab on Wednesday.
Though final polling figures were not available at the time of the filing of this report, official sources said 47 per cent voting was recorded till 2 p.m. The voting began at 8 a.m. and went even after official timing of 4 p.m. as voters standing in the queues were allowed to cast vote, an official said. The counting of votes will take place on 22 September.
Clashes between Congress and SAD workers were reported from Raja Sansi in Amritsar, Jhoke Harihar in Ferozepur, Lodhi Gujjar in Ajnala and Sohia Kalan in Majitha. During the clashes members of both factions pelted stones at each other and used sticks as weapons causing minor injuries to a few.
In Bathinda, former minister and Akali leader Sikandar Singh Maluka accused Congress workers of booth capturing at Kangar, Bhai Rupa and Salabatpura.
Akali workers led by Maluka blocked Bhagta Bathinda Road to register their protest against the ruling party.
A total of 17,268 polling booths were set up, 35 observers appointed and around 50,000 police personnel deployed for the polls in Punjab. The opposition parties had on Tuesday expressed fear of “large-scale booth capturing”. They had claimed the ruling party wanted to win the polls “by hook or by crook”.
With the Congress touted as the favourite to win the Zila Parishads and Panchayat Samitis after a gap of 10 years, the main contest will be between the ruling party and the SAD-BJP alliance.
A total of 354 Zila Parishad and 2,900 Panchayat Samiti members are to be elected through these polls. There are 22 Zila Parishads and 150 Panchayat Samitis in the state.
Thirty-three candidates were earlier elected unopposed to various Zila parishads and 369 nominees were elected unopposed to the panchayat samitis. There are a total of 1,27,87,395 registered voters in Punjab, comprising 60,99,053 women and 97 third-gender voters.