Amid tight security,the stage is set for elections to panchayat aamitis and zila parishads in Punjab on Sunday,the campaigning for which was marred by violence in which four persons were killed.
Security force personnel had been deployed in strength to ensure smooth,free and fair elections,said state Election Commissioner S S Brar.
As many as 760 candidates are in fray for elections to 331 zones of 22 Zila Parishads,he said adding 30 were elected unopposed.
A total of 5,786 candidates were trying their luck for 146 Panchayat Samitis,Brar said.
The polling would be held in 12,000 villages and nearly 2,650 out of 19,350 booths had been declared sensitive. The counting of votes would take place on May 21.
In the run-up to the elections,two persons were killed in clashes between SAD and Congress activists at Lopoke in Amritsar.
Two more persons,including a Congressman,were killed in violence at Patti and Bathinda ahead of polling. In view of violence,the opposition Congress demanded deployment of central forces in Punjab,which was rejected by the state election body.
State Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa alleged there was total lawlessnes in Punjab and demanded Presidents rule in the state.
Sunday has been declared a dry day in all villages where polling would be held,a spokesman of the Commission said.
All political parties are contesting the polls on their election symbols. The Congress in a bid to take on the ruling SAD-BJP combine has tied up with the Peoples Party of Punjab and the Left parties in some areas.
Last time,the SAD-BJP,which was in power,swept the polls and the Congress,then ruling the state,in 2003.