Haryana, Punjab register nearly 65 percent voting
Chandigarh, May 7 (IANS) Barring a few clashes between workers of various parties, parliamentary poll in Haryana and Punjab Thursday passed off peacefully with a voter turnout of nearly 65 percent in both states.
All 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana went to polls in the fourth phase of the general elections - recording a voting of near 65 percent out of an electorate of 12 million (1.2 crore).
The voting in Haryana this time was a shade less than in the 2004 general elections that saw 65.72 percent voter turnout.
The nearly 65 percent voter turnout in Punjab's four constituencies was higher than the overall 61.59 percent polling for 13 Lok Sabha seats in the 2004 elections.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda thanked people for coming out to vote despite the heat wave and ensuring peaceful polling.
Minor clashes were reported between supporters of leading parties but the poll process largely remained peaceful.
The main contest in Haryana is between the ruling Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine.
Key candidates in the fray include former chief minister Bhajan Lal (Haryana Janhit Congress), Ajay Singh Chautala (INLD), steel-magnate Naveen Jindal (Congress), Deepinder Singh Hooda (Congress) and union ministers Rao Inderjit Singh and Selja (both Congress).
The Congress had won nine out of the 10 Lok Sabha seats in 2004 while the BJP had one seat.
In Haryana, the fate of 210 candidates was decided, while in Punjab voters decided the electoral fortunes of 79 candidates.
In Punjab, the main contest is between the Congress and the ruling Akali Dal-BJP alliance.
Bathinda seat, that is seeing a fight between the ruling Badal family and the Patiala royals led by former chief minister Amarinder Singh, saw a voting of over 66 percent.
Akali Dal president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal's wife, Harsimrat Kaur, is pitted against Amarinder Singh's son Raninder Singh in this seat.
Punjab's Director General of Police (DGP) K.K. Attri said that five cases were registered in state, one in each in Bathinda, Sangrur, Barnala, Muktsar and Mansa districts and 11 people were arrested.
Both Congress and Akali leaders accused each other of violence and firing in Bathinda, Ferozepur and Patiala. In Ferozepur district's Ittanwali village, Congress leaders alleged that one party activist was killed in firing by Akali Dal workers. Police officials, however, said that no such incident took place.
Over 5.27 million voters from Punjab's total electorate of 16.8 million were eligible to vote.
In 2004 the Akali-BJP combine had won 11 seats while Congress had won two in Punjab.
'As chief minister, I am happy that people of the state have given a strong rebuff to forces that were out to defame the peaceful, democratic traditions of Punjab by raising a false hue and cry against the government's determination to ensure smooth poll. Elections in Punjab have been completely peaceful, impartial, fully free and fair,' Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said.
Former chief minister and Congress leader Amarinder Singh said that the available trends showed that the Congress would sweep the poll in Punjab.
'Despite the attempts by the Akalis to sabotage the election process by resorting to incidents of violence and intimidation of the Congress supporters, our workers showed exemplary courage and full faith in the democratic process,' Amarinder Singh said.
While Amarinder Singh's son Raninder Singh is contesting from Bathinda, his wife and sitting MP Preneet Kaur is seeking another term from Patiala constituency.
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