64.45 pc polling in Punjab, amid minor clashes; Chandigarh registers nearly 64 pc

Barring stray incidents of clashes between Congress and SAD-BJP workers, the polling for 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab on Sunday went off peacefully, recording a voter turnout of 64.45 per cent which sealed the fate of 278 candidates.

Polling remained peaceful in the lone parliamentary constituency of Union Territory Chandigarh, where 63.57 per cent of over six lakh electors exercised their franchise to seal the fate of 36 candidates, poll officials said.

In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the poll percentage in Punjab was 70.89 and 73.1 pc in Chandigarh.

As many as 278 candidates, including 24 women, are in the fray in Punjab where 2.07 crore voters were eligible to cast their votes in the seventh and final phase of the general election.

Bathinda (73.90 pc) witnessed maximum turnout while Amritsar (56.35 pc) recorded lowest poll percentage. The exact percentage may change after compilation of data, officials said.

A 30-year-old man was killed by three brothers at Sarli Kalan village in Tarn Taran district while he was on his way back home after casting vote, Senior Superintendent of Police Kuldip Singh Chahal said, however, clarifying that it was not a poll related violence.

Punjab's Chief Electoral Officer S Karuna Raju also said the incident was the result of "old personal enmity" and a murder case has been registered against the three accused.

He, however, said, barring stray incidents of clashes, "polling remained peaceful in in the state".

The CEO said in a firing incident in Talwandi Sabo under Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency, two persons were injured, following which 27 persons were booked. But the opposition SAD alleged that shots were fired by some workers of the ruling Congress.

Union minister Harsimrat Kaur charged Punjab government with "misusing" official machinery to "intimidate" Akali supporters. She is seeking re-election from Bathinda for the third time.

Besides, skirmishes took place at Gurdaspur, Ferozepur, Moga, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Sangrur between Congress and SAD-BJP workers.

Three persons were booked for posting videos or photographs while voting in Gurdaspur, Ludhiana and Rupnagar, the Punjab's CEO said.

A factory in Dera Bassi was sealed for not observing holiday on the polling day, he said.

Initially, there were some reports of technical glitches in EVMs at several places including Ludhiana, Samana and Moga. However, Raju said there was no disruption in polling process.

The voters who exercised their franchise included elders, women, youth and a groom in Ludhiana.

A Congress polling agent died of cardiac arrest in Nawanshahr.

Chief minister Amarinder Singh, his wife Preneet Kaur along with his other family members exercised their franchise at Patiala while former CM Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, his wife Harsimrat Kaur and their two daughters cast their votes in Bathinda parliamentary constituency.

Kaur's daughter Gurleen Kaur was among the 3.94 lakh first time voters.

Among the celebrities, cricketer Harbhajan Singh exercised his franchise in Jalandhar and actress Gul Panag cast her vote in Fatehgarh Sahib.

From the Chandigarh seat, BJP candidate Kirron Kher is seeking re-election against Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal.

Prominent faces among candidates who are in fray in Punjab included Sukhbir Badal, Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur, Hardeep Puri and Bollywood actor Sunny Deol.

Sukhbir entered fray from Ferozepur, while BJP candidate Puri is contesting from Amritsar seat.

BJP's Sunny Deol is making his electoral debut from Gurdaspur constituency against the state Congress chief and sitting MP Sunil Jakhar while AAP's Bhagwant Mann is seeking re-election from Sangrur seat.

The fate of nine sitting MLAs and 10 sitting MPs from various parties was also sealed.

Among Congress' heavyweights, Manish Tewari is in fray from Anandpur Sahib while Chief Minister Amarinders wife Preneet Kaur is contesting from Patiala seat.

On most of the 13 seats, the contest appeared to be a direct fight between the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance.

In 2014, the AAP and the SAD had won four seats each, Congress three and the BJP two.