Chandigarh, 30 Apr : (PTI) A turnout of 54% was registered till 3pm on Wednesday in parts of Punjab, where 253 contestants are in fray for 13 Lok Sabha seats.
Out of a total 1.95 crore electorate, 54% voters had exercised their franchise till 3pm and the polling has been peaceful so far, an election office spokesman said.
However, minor skirmishes between Akali Dal and Congress workers were reported from Moga, Khadoor Sahib and Amritsar.
At least ten persons were injured in a clash between Akali and Congress workers at Sangatpura village in Moga, officials said, adding, that police intervened and peace was restored in the area.
Union Minister of State Preneet Kaur cast her vote in Patiala, while her husband and Congress candidate from Amritsar Capt Amarinder Singh preferred to stay back at the constituency from where he is in fray against BJP’s Arun Jaitley.
Singh is a registered voter in Patiala from where he is a MLA.
Soaring temperatures in Punjab have not deterred the electors from reaching the polling booths to exercise their franchise as serpentine ques were seen at several places.
The polling will end at 6pm.
BJP MLA Navjot Kaur, wife of cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, a three-time MP from Amritsar, cast her vote in the holy city.
On Sidhu’s absence from exercising his franchise, she said, “He is very busy today otherwise he does not miss exercising his franchise.” BJP had replaced Sidhu by leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley from Amritsar. In the run up to the Lok Sabha polls, Sidhu did not even once visit Amritsar to canvass for Jaitley.
Jaitley, who did not have vote in Punjab paid obeisance at Golden temple, and urged people to come out in larger numbers to vote. SAD’s Sangrur candidate Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate from Patiala Dr Dharamvir Gandhi were among those who cast their vote in the initial hours of polling. “There is an AAP wave in Punjab and we will surprise all by winning maximum seats,” Dharamvir said.Congress candidate Manpreet Singh Badal, estranged nephew of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, after casting his vote alleged there is “misgovernance” in Punjab with mafias controlling all businesses.
“The polls are about pride of Punjab…we (Congress) will bring rule of law in the state,” he said. Manpreet’s rival and SAD candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal also cast her vote in Bathinda.
Harsimrat, who is wife of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, claimed there is anti-incumbency wave against the central government and NDA will come to power at the Centre.
She refuted corruption charges against the Badal regime and claimed that drug menace prevailed due to inflow of contraband from across the border and it is the role of the central government to stop it by enhancing vigil at borders.
“Congress is deaf and dumb to problems of Punjab,” she said.
Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa and his MLA wife Charanjeet Kaur exercised their franchise in Qadian in Gurdaspur. Bajwa claimed that SAD-BJP will be wiped out of Punjab as Congress is set to win all 13 seats.
Among other key contestants are actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna (BJP) and his rival Punjab Congress Chief Partap Singh Bajwa from Gurdaspur, Leader of Opposition in Punjab assembly Sunil Kumar Jakhar (Congress) against SAD’s sitting MP Sher Singh Ghubaya from Ferozepur, Congress veteran Ambika Soni against Akali stalwart Prem Singh Chandumajra from Anandpur Sahib constituency.