PANCHKULA’S DECISION was sealed on Sunday, with an average of 54 per cent voter turnout recorded in the high-stakes Panchkula Municipal Corporation election. More than one lakh people out of a total 1.8 lakh voters exercised their right to choose the councillors and mayor in the first direct elections.
The voting percentage recorded remained low as compared to the last MC elections held in 2013 where the voter turnout had stood at 64.01 per cent. The polling across 275 booths remained peaceful with no cases of any disruption reported.
Staying true to the voting trends of the district, rural Panchkula recorded a better turnout than urban, which led the average to rise.
The turnout remained slow since the morning, and even though numbers increased slowly around noon, no rush was spotted at most polling booths. The voting percentage stood at a mere 35 per cent around 2 pm. The remaining 20 per cent votes were cast between 2 pm to 5.30 pm. The average of voter turnout is expected to stand around 50 per cent for urban and 60 per cent for rural.
Even though the last one hour of polling had been reserved for Covid positive patients, no patients came forward to vote, informed Returning officer and ADC Mohammed Raza.
As per official data, the highest number of votes were polled in ward 20 with 84 per cent voter turnout, followed by ward 16 with 78 per cent voter turnout, ward 19 with 76 per cent voter turnout, ward 1 with 65 per cent voter turnout, and ward 8 with 64 per cent voter turnout.
Even though special arrangements were in place, political parties speculate Covid-19 may have kept voters inside homes.
“The fear of spread of Covid as well as the voting day being amid the holiday season may be the prime reason which kept the voters away,” said Upinder Kaur Ahluwali, Mayoral candidate from the Congress party and former Mayor of Panchkula. She has also expressed strong confidence of her win with a huge margin in her favour.
Kulbhushan Goyal, the Mayoral candidate for BJP also seemed confident of the win. “The rural population has voted in high numbers. There is no way this is a win for Congress,” he said.
Main contenders from both the parties were spotted visiting polling booths throughout the day. Polling agents were selected on proximity basis — to booths near their homes — to ensure voters see friendly faces on arriving.
Union Minister Rattan Lal Kataria, Haryana Speaker, local MLA Gian Chand Gupta, and former deputy chief minister Chander Mohan were among the prominent personalities who cast their votes on Sunday.
As many as 89 candidates, including six for the mayoral post and 83 for councillor posts, have contested the elections. The polls are expected to remain a direct contest between the BJP-JJP alliance and the Congress party, which is hoping to make a comeback in the city. Despite the state election commission making special arrangements in view of Covid-19 pandemic, several booths, especially in the rural areas were spotted flouting norms.
The counting of votes will done on December 30, following which the results will be declared.
Two nabbed with illegal liquor a day prior to polls
Two people carrying 92 bottles of English liquor were nabbed by the Panchkula Police, during a checking raid, on Saturday.
Police teams spotted the accused at different places carrying bottles of liquor. The accused have been identified as Sanjay, a resident of Ashiana Sector 20 and Sushil Kumar, a resident Pir Muchchala who were arrested by the team of police station Sector 20 Panchkula. Besides this, a team from the Chandimandir police station rested Harinath, a resident Ashiana Sector 26 Panchkula, with 12 bottles of illegal liquor.
The accused were booked under sections 61, 4 and 20 of the Punjab Excise Act (Haryana Amendment) 2020.