Voting for 117 constituencies for Punjab Assembly elections began at 8 am on Sunday amid tight security. In Punjab, over 2.14 crore voters will decide the fate of 1304 candidates who are in the fray from 117 constituencies.
There are 2,14,99,804 voters in Punjab who are eligible to exercise their franchise on Sunday. He said that there are 1304 candidates--1209 male, 93 women and two transgenders are in the fray in 117 constituencies spread across 23 districts of the state.
The state is witnessing a multi-corner contest this time with Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Shiromani Akali Dal-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance, and the coalition of Bharatiya Janata Party-former chief minister Amarinder Singh's Punjab Lok Congress party as key players. Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, who is the Congress's chief ministerial face, is contesting from two seats Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur.
Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu is facing SAD's Bikram Singh Majithia, AAP's Jeevanjyot Kaur and BJP's Jagmohan Singh Raju in Amritsar (East). AAP Lok Sabha MP from Sangrur and party's CM face Bhagwant Mann is contesting from Dhuri seat. Punjab Lok Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh is seeking re-election from the Patiala constituency.
Five-time Chief Minister and senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal is in the fray from the Lambi seat while SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal is in the electoral contest from Jalalabad. The BJP has pitted its Punjab unit chief Ashwani Kumar Sharma from the Pathankot constituency. A total of 1,304 candidates-- 231 are from national parties, 250 from state parties, 362 from unrecognised Parties, and 461 are Independent candidates.
As many as 315 contesting candidates are with Criminal Antecedents. A total of 24689 polling stations and 51 auxiliary polling stations have been established at 14684 polling station locations of which 2013 are identified as critical, while 2952 are vulnerable pockets. Three Special State Observers, ECI has appointed 65 General Observers, 50 Expenditure Observers and 29 Police Observers, who are keeping a close vigil.
As many as 2,083 sector officers have been deployed to assist polling parties. All the DCs, CPs and SSPs have been keeping strict vigil to check the incidents of distribution of liquor, narcotics and money to voters. In the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, Congress won 77 seats in the 117-member House, whereas Shiromani Akali Dal could win only 18 seats.
On the other hand, AAP emerged as the second-largest party with 20 seats. The counting of votes will be done on March 10.