Punjab polls: 63.1% voters get inked in Mohali district
Voter turnout drops across Mohali (urban), Kharar and Dera Bassi constituencies compared to 2017; Mohali (urban) fared the best at 63.9%
The administration’s intensive voter sensitisation efforts failed to elicit desired results, with Mohali district recording a polling percentage of 63.1%, worse than 71.8% in 2017.
Of the 7.94 lakh registered voters, 5.01 lakh turned up to seal the fate of 40 candidates in the fray from the district’s three constituencies – Mohali (urban), Kharar and Dera Bassi.
Mohali (urban) fared the best with a voter turnout of 63.9%. Kharar was close behind at 63.7%, while Dera Bassi trailed at 61.7%, according to the polling figures tallied till 11pm.
Five years ago, all three seats had recorded far better polling when Dera Bassi witnessed 76.06% turnout, Kharar 72.93% and Mohali (urban) 66.39%.
Two sitting MLAs – Congress’ Balbir Singh Sidhu and Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) NK Sharma – are again gunning for the Mohali and Dera Bassi seats, respectively.
With the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM) also part of the electoral battle, all three seats saw a stiff, multi-cornered fight.
As voting began at sharp 8am, long queues were already in place in villages and colonies, while urban booths saw voters trickling in slowly through the day.
Even in the last two assembly elections in 2012 and 2017, rural areas saw higher polling. In 2012, the voter turnout in rural areas was around 74% and 64% in urban areas. In 2017, it further improved to 76.23% in rural pockets, while urban areas fared even worse at 60.49%.
The trend was similar in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, when Mohali district saw 69% voters showing up in rural areas and only 60% in urban areas.
Before polling wrapped up around 7pm, technical snags in electronic voting machines were reported in some booths at Dera Bassi and Balongi, forcing voters to wait for nearly an hour.
On the lower turnout this time, district electoral officer Isha Kalia said while voters may have avoided venturing out amid the Covid-19 pandemic, urban pockets tend to exhibit a laid-back attitude towards elections, while in rural areas, groups formed on the lines of religion and occupation encourage people to vote for change.
She added that there were complaints of some minor glitches, which were sorted out soon. “Overall voters expressed satisfaction about the arrangements, especially for drinking water, seating and queue management,” she added.
Barring minor incidents of face-off between supporters of various political parties, polling concluded peacefully, according to Mohali senior superintendent of police (SSP) Harjit Singh.
BJP’s Dera Bassi candidate Sanjeev Khanna lodged a complaint regarding booth capturing by some Congress workers. But, Kalia said, nothing of the sort was found on inspection.
Additional deputy commissioner Komal Mittal said Covid measures were in place. Arrangements were made for social distancing and thermal scanning at all booths. Masks were provided to voters who came without them, she added.
Out of the 907 polling booths, 899 had live webcast facility, enabling real-time, remote monitoring of the proceedings.
Bhagwant Mann shows up at wrong booth
Aam Aadmi Party’s chief ministerial candidate Bhagwant Mann ended up at the wrong booth in Phase 3B1. While he was supposed to cast his vote at booth number 154, he reached booth number 156, before he was guided to walk towards the right one.
Voting before wedding
Dressed up in wedding finery, a groom arrived for voting at a booth in Balongi before proceeding with his wedding party. The groom, Jaspreet Singh said, “We get the opportunity to shape the state’s future only once in five years, so I couldn’t have missed the chance.”
Elderly participate enthusiastically
Various booths saw elderly voters coming in for polling energetically. Surinder Kaur, 73, who came to cast her vote in Phase 11 on a wheelchair, said, “I have never skipped voting in the past five decades. Moreover, I encourage youngsters to also vote for a better future.”
DC, ADC remain on toes
Along with security personnel, Mohali deputy commissioner Isha Kalia and additional deputy commissioner Komal Mittal also remained on toes to ensure smooth conduct of elections. Both were seen making rounds of polling booths, interacting with voters and taking feedback on arrangements.
Model booths delight voters
The administration had set up 96 model booths, which were decked out with balloons and red carpets. These also featured crèche facility, which was availed of by many couples, and selfie points, which remained buzzing with activity. First-time voters were also greeted with rosebuds here.
Four held with fake voter IDs
The Zirakpur police arrested four migrant workers with forged voter IDs at a booth in Lohgarh. They were identified by vigilant polling staff and handed over to police. A case under Sections 419 (cheating by personation), 171-F (undue influence or personation at an election) and 511 (attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) of the Indian Penal Code was registered.
SAD leader booked for silence period violation
Police have booked SAD leader Harcharan Singh Bains for posting campaigning videos on his Facebook page during the 48-hour silence period before the Punjab assembly elections. The case was lodged following a complaint by the AAP that also submitted the video links. “A case under Sections 188 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act has been registered,” said SSP Harjit Singh.