Punjab, Uttarakhand register record polling
Punjab and Uttarakhand witnessed record voter turn out at 77 percent and 70 percent respectively Monday with one death in the country's grain bowl and peaceful balloting in the hill state.
Counting of votes will take place in both states March 6.
Punjab's chief electoral officer (CEO) Kusumjit Sidhu said the final voting percentage could cross 80 percent, a new record in the state, once final figures emerge Tuesday. In the 2007 assembly polls, the highest poll percentage was over 75 percent.
She said that barring a few clashes, no major violence was reported during polling in the state. A total of nine cases were registered at various places.
A teenaged boy, Nishan Singh, was killed in Pyarawala village in Ferozepur rural constituency, 250 km from Punjab's capital Chandigarh following a minor clash between supporters of the ruling Akali Dal and Congress.
Eyewitnesses told the police that the boy was killed in firing by Gurmel Singh alias Lady Garry, the husband of the Congress candidate from the Ferozepur rural seat, Satkar Kaur. The incident took place around 5.30 p.m., 30 minutes after the election process was officially over.
Over 73,000 security personnel, including more than 2,000 paramilitary troopers, were deployed to ensure smooth and peaceful polling in Punjab.
The state has a total of 17,683,559 voters, of which 8,361,014 are women.
The main contest is between the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance led by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and the opposition Congress headed by former chief minister Amarinder Singh.
A third front, Sanjha Morcha, has been formed recently and is led by former finance minister Manpreet Badal's newly floated People's Party of Punjab (PPP).
In the 2007 assembly polls, the Akali Dal had 49 legislators with alliance partner BJP winning another 19 seats (total tally 68). The Congress had 44 legislators while five seats were won by independents.
In the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand bright sunshine resulted in the highest turnout of voters at 70 percent.
The otherwise harsh winter had earlier, become a serious cause of worry for all political parties.
Uttarakhand chief electoral officer Radha Raturi said,"Nearly 70 percent of the state's 63 lakh voters came out to cast their vote."
Polling was 63 percent in 2007.
While the EC is euphoric about the high voter turnout, it is seen as a bad signal for ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
"Higher the turnout, worse for the BJP," observed a senior political analyst, who preferred anonymity.
The BJP regime had taken much beating largely on account of the tremendous rise in corruption levels and poor governance during the chief ministership of Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, who was replaced with a clean Maj Gen (Retd) B.C. Khanduri a few months ago.
This, and dissent within the BJP, has given high hopes to the Congress party, which has promised the people of Uttarakhand that they were capable of providing better governance.