Voting underway for 13 seats in Punjab, lone Chandigarh seat

Amid reports of EVM snags, polling was underway Sunday in all 13 Lok Sabha constituencies of Punjab and the lone Chandigarh constituency, with SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Puri among those in the fray.

Polling began at 7 am and is scheduled to go on till 6 pm, officials said.

Among early voters were cricketer Harbhajan Singh, Congress candidate from Anandpur Sahib Manish Tewari, sitting MP from Patiala Dharamvira Gandhi, BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Congress candidate from Amritsar Gurjeet Singh Aujla.

Voters, including elders, women and youth, queued up early morning at several polling stations to exercise their franchise.

There were reports of technical glitches in EVMs at several places including Ludhiana, Samana and Moga.

Over 2.07 crore voters in Punjab are eligible to exercise their franchise in the election in which 278 candidates, including 24 women, are in the fray.

Besides Sukhbir Badal, his wife and Union minister Harsimrat Badal is seeking re-election from Bathinda for the third time. Union minister and BJP candidate Puri is contesting from Amritsar seat.

Actor-turned-politician Sunny Deol is making his electoral debut from Gurdaspur constituency against Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar.

AAP’s Bhagwant Mann is trying his luck from Sangrur seat.

Among Congress’ heavyweights, former Union minister Tewari is contesting from Anandpur Sahib while former Union minister and wife of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Preneet Kaur, is contesting from Patiala seat.

On most of the 13 seats, the contest appears 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, the Congress three and the BJP two.

Out of over 2.07 crore eligible voters in Punjab, 98,29,916 are female electors and 560 belong to the third gender.

More than one lakh security personnel including paramilitary force have been deployed in the state for holding free and fair polling, officials said.

Over 3.94 lakh voters in the 18-19 age group would exercise their franchise for the first time in Punjab.

A total of 23,213 polling stations have been set up and 249, 719 and 509 booths have been categorised as critical, sensitive and hyper sensitive, respectively.

From the Chandigarh seat, BJP candidate Kirron Kher is locked in an electoral battle with former railway minister and Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal.

More than 6.46 lakh voters in Chandigarh have the right to exercise their franchise in the election in which 36 candidates, nine of them women, are in the fray.

Of total 6,46,063 voters in Chandigarh, 3,04,423 are women electors and 21 are in third gender category. There are 17,598 eligible first-time voters in the 18-19 age group.