The urban local body elections in Punjab saw a 55.91% turnout till 2 pm on Sunday, The Times of India reported. Mansa district registered the highest turnout at 68.9%, followed by Bathinda (66.93%) and Barnala (63.18%).
Polling for 117 urban local bodies, including eight municipal corporations in Punjab, started on Sunday morning, PTI reported. A total of 9,222 candidates are in the fray for elections to 2,302 wards of the eight municipal corporations of Abohar, Bathinda Batala, Kapurthala, Mohali, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot and Moga and 109 municipal councils and nagar panchayats in the state.
The voting was held from 8 am to 4 pm. The counting of votes will take place on February 17.
Some incidents of violence were reported during the voting. Ten people were injured after a clash erupted between Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal workers in Ropar district. In Hoshiarpur district, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader’s vehicle was allegedly attacked by some unidentified people when a group of farmers was staging a protest against the agricultural laws. PTI reported.
The polls hold greater significance amid the farmers’ agitation against the new agriculture laws, as majority of the protestors belong to Punjab. Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping out on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two months for withdrawal of the legislations, which they say will benefit corporate sector at their expense.
Special security cover has been provided to Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and candidates in some sensitive areas on a temporary basis, as a precaution to them facing public anger due to the crisis, according to the Hindustan Times. The BJP is contesting the polls without its long-time ally in the state, Shiromani Akali Dal, which broke ties with the National Democratic Alliance in September last year due to differences on the contentious laws.
Sunil Jakhar, chief of the ruling Congress party in the state, told the Hindustan Times that the Opposition parties – BJP, Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party – have already conceded defeat. “They simply do not have any argument against the Congress Party, which is fighting elections purely on the development plank,” Jakhar said.
Out of total candidates, 2,832 are contesting as Independents, 2,037 are of the Congress, while 1,569 are Akali Dal nominees, according to PTI. The Bharatiya Janata Party has 1,003 candidates, while the Aam Aadmi Party has 1,606.
The State Election Commission has set up 4,102 polling stations, of which, 1,708 have been declared as sensitive and 861 as hyper sensitive.