Around 8 to 10 per cent of the total 1.98 crore electors have exercised their franchise till 10 AM to seal the fate of 1,145 candidates in the high-stakes Punjab Assembly elections.
"8 to 10 per cent polling has taken place till 10 AM," an election office spokesman said here, adding that the polling was peaceful. The polling started around 45 minutes late at two polling booths in Jalandhar and Amritsar due to technical glitch in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
The early voters included General J J Singh (Red) of SAD, Pargat Singh of Congress, Sucha Singh Chhotepur of Apna Punjab Party (APP), and Bhagwant Mann, Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi and Sukhpal SIngh Kahiara of AAP.
Congress candidate Ravneet Singh Bittu said AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal had joined hands with fundamentalists to fight the state polls.
General (Retd) J J Singh said SAD-BJP will perform a hattrick and form the government. The polling for 117 Punjab assembly seats is taking place amid tight security. Punjab is witnessing a three-cornered contest between ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance, opposition Congress and new entrant Aam Aadmi Party.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has fielded candidates in 94 seats, while its ally BJP has nominated candidates in the remaining 23 seats. Congress is contesting alone on all seats. AAP, which is contesting the state polls for the first time, has fielded candidates in 112 seats, while its ally Lok Insaf Party, led by Ludhiana-based Bains brothers, has fielded nominees in five seats.
Other political outfits in the fray include BSP, former AAP leader Sucha Singh Chhotepur-led Apna Punjab Party, the Left comprising CPI and CPI-M, and SAD-Amritsar.
Over 200 companies of paramilitary forces have been deputed for the fair conduct of polls. Voting for Amritsar Lok Sabha seat by-poll is also being held amid tight security arrangements. The total number of electors in the state is 1,98,79,069, including 93,75,546 females. There are 415 transgender voters.
The total number of candidates in the fray include 81 women and a transgender. The polling commenced at 22,615 polling stations in the entire state. While 84 Assembly seats are of general category, 34 are reserved.
15 per cent turnout for first two hours in Goa polls
The first two of hours polling in Goa witnessed 15 per cent voters turning out to exercise their right to franchise in the State Assembly elections.
ECI's data sourced from various polling booth have revealed that there was 16 per cent voting in North and 14 per cent in South Goa constituencies between 7 AM to 9 AM. Long queues were seen outside almost all the polling stations in the state with estimates of more than 40 per cent voters going to vote before lunch.
Except for minor incidents of EVM failures which was rectified later on, polling has remained peaceful across the state. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Union AYUSH minister Shripad Naik, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and rebel RSS leader Subhash Velingkar were amongst the early voters who turned up at their respective polling booths.
More than eleven lakh voters are eligible to exercise their right in this election which has 250 candidates in fray. Voting is being held across 1,642 polling booths in the state with para-military forces and State police guarding the venues.
The election is being closely fought by major political forces – BJP, Congress, AAP and MGP-led alliance, who have been campaigning in the coastal state for last two months. BJP's campaign was star-studded with several national leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah addressing the public meeting to rally support for the candidates.
While large number of new faces are contesting this time, thepolls will decide political future of Goa's five former chief ministers – Churchill Alemao, Pratapsinh Rane, Ravi Naik, Digambar Kamat and Luizinho Faleiro along with present CM Laxmikant Parsekar.
Though 2012 Goa Assembly elections witnessed satisfactory 83 per cent voting, the election commission officials in Goa ran an awareness campaign for voters in order to increase the bar.
Various icons from different fields were engaged to spread message about ethical voting by the commission which had strict vigilance on casinos, matka gambling, unorganized vendors and other activities to avoid money and muscle power from influencing the voters.
For the polls underway, AAP is contesting on 39 seats, Congress on 37 and BJP on 36 seats. BJP which had pre-poll alliance in 2012 elections is going alone this time but is supporting independents in four constituencies. —PTI