Chandigarh: Polling to the zila parishads and panchayat samitis began in Punjab on Wednesday morning amid tight security arrangements. The voting commenced at 8 am and will continue till 4 pm, officials said. A total of 354 zila parishad members and 2,900 panchayat samiti members were going to be elected in these polls, they added.
There are 22 zila parishads and 150 panchayat samitis in the state. Thirty three candidates were earlier elected unopposed to various zila parishads and 369 nominees were declared elected unopposed to the panchayat samitis. There are a total of 1,27,87,395 registered voters, comprising 60,99,053 women and 97 third-gender voters. The counting of votes will take place on 22 September.
A total of 17,268 polling booths have been set up in the state and 35 observers have been appointed to ensure a peaceful election. Around 50,000 Punjab Police personnel have been deployed across the state in view of the polls. While the ruling Congress is claiming a "clean sweep" in the local body polls, both the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition and the Aam Aadmi Party are also optimistic about their victory, "provided the State Election Commission ensures a free-and-fair election".
However, the opposition parties had on Tuesday expressed the fear of "large-scale booth capturing" allegedly at the behest of Congress workers. They had claimed that the ruling party wanted to win these polls "by hook or by crook". With the Congress being touted as the favourite to win the zila parishads and panchayat samitis after a gap of 10 years, the main contest will remain between the ruling party and the SAD-BJP alliance.
Updated Date: Sep 19, 2018 10:41 AM