Long queues as voting begins in Punjab amid tight security

Chandigarh, (IANS) Long queues were seen at most polling stations in Punjab as voting began in all 117 assembly constituencies in the state on Saturday.

Voting commenced at 8 a.m. and will continue till 5 p.m.

Reports from various places indicated that voters queued up at polling stations much before 8 a.m.

The enthusiasm of voters was almost equal in rural and urban areas.

Among early voters were former Army chief and ex-governor Gen J.J. Singh (Patiala city) of the Shiromani Akali Dal, and former finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal (Badal village) of the Congress.

Reports of faulty electronic voting machines (EVMs) were received during early voting in Gurdaspur, Rajasansi (Amritsar), Sahnewal, Pathankot, Kharar and Bhoa assembly seats. This led to delay in voting process, election officials said.

Tight security arrangements were in place across Punjab and the state’s borders with neighbouring states were sealed.

There are 22,614 polling stations in Punjab.

Over 1.98 crore electorates will decide the fate of 1,145 candidates, including 81 women and a lone transgender candidate.

Voting for by-election to the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat is also being held on Saturday.

The counting of votes will take place on March 11.

The main contest is among the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance, which has been in power in Punjab since 2007, the Congress and the new entrant – Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

For the first time, Punjab is witnessing three-cornered contests on all the 117 assembly seats.

In the 2012 assembly elections, 78.57 per cent of Punjab voters had exercised their franchise.

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