In the 2007 Punjab Assembly polls,despite inclement weather,an unprecedented 75.45 per cent of the states eligible electors turned out to cast their votes. On Monday,as a bright sun shone throughout the state,Punjabis came out in even higher numbers bettering their own record with a never-before 76.63 per cent and sealed the fate of 1,078 candidates in fray. And in voting so heavily,they ensured sleepless nights for a little over a month for many of the most high-profile contestants.
Of the total 117 seats spread over 22 districts,as many as 41 witnessed voting in excess of 80 per cent the highest of 90 per cent was recorded in Guru Har Sahai in Ferozepur district. At 88.7 and 87.71 per cent respectively,Gidderbaha (Muktsar) and Malerkotla (Sangrur) probably the two most keenly contested seats in addition to Lambi also witnessed heavy voting.
In fact,among themselves,the five hyper-sensitive constituencies of Lambi,Patiala,Gidderbaha,Jalalabad and Bholath from where most of the top-guns of Punjab politics are contesting witnessed over 82 per cent of incident-free voting.
Lambi,from where Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is in direct contest with his younger brother Gurdas Badal (PPP) and cousin Maheshinder Badal (Congress),witnessed 86 per cent turnout. While the chief minister had defeated Maheshinder in Lambi by 9,000-odd votes in 2007,the latter has a record of always adding a few thousand more votes to his kitty in successive elections. Gurdas Badal,meanwhile,has an enviable record of never losing an election he has contested once each for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the past and won both times. Muktsar,which is home to both Lambi and Gidderbaha,polled a little over 85 per cent votes.
The high voter turnout in Gidderbaha,where PPP chief Manpreet Badal is locked in a triangular fight with Rahul Gandhis handpicked Congress candidate Amarinder Singh Raja Warring and SADs Sant Singh Brar,is set to keep all contestants on tenterhooks till the March 6 counting.
Muslim-dominated Mal-erkotla,where the contest is between two begums one wife of a serving Punjab Police ADGP and the other of a retired DGP too will attract a lot of attention till the D-Day owing to the high voter turnout.
While constituencies like Jalalabad,from where Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal is contesting,saw 82 per cent votes being cast,Bholath the constituency of controversial Bibi Jagir Kaur polled 80 per cent votes. Despite polling a healthy 73 per cent votes,Patiala,from where state Congress Chief Captain Amarinder Singh is in fray,appeared to have paled a bit in comparison to other high-profile seats.
What would please the Election Commission,however,is the fact that despite having the most number of vulnerable areas where muscle power could have had an impact on the polls,Gurdaspur and Moga districts saw 72.71 and 77.25 per cent polling respectively. Amritsar district,which also had the third highest vulnerable hamlets,polled a healthy 70.63 per cent.