Balloting began on a brisk note in Punjab Wednesday for the 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in a single phase election, the Election Commission said. Between 10 to 15 percent voting was recorded till 10 a.m., the commission said.
Sangrur, Bathinda and Hoshiarpur constituencies were leading in the number of votes polled. People queued up even before 7 a.m. when the polling stations opened for balloting. Punjab has over 19.5 million (1.95 crore) voters. As many as 253 candidates are in the fray. Prominent candidates are Akali Dal's Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Bharatiya Janata Party's Arun Jaitley, the Congress's Amarinder Singh, and BJP's three-time MP Vinod Khanna, an actor.
The big contest is on in Amritsar where senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who is fighting a popular election for the first time, is locked in a bitter contest with former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh of the Congress. However, both Jaitley and Amarinder could not cast their votes as they are not registered voters in Amritsar. The Election Commission is expecting a voter turnout of 80 percent in the state this time. In the 2009 election, Punjab recorded over 70 percent polling.
Over 75,000 policemen and paramilitary troopers have been stationed across the state to ensure peaceful polling, Director General of Police Suresh Arora said. Punjab has 13,582 polling stations and 22,060 polling booths. Of these, 2,442 polling stations have been declared hyper-sensitive and 4,632 sensitive, Arora said.