The states of Punjab and Goa went to polls on Saturday and as the voting came to an end Goa had a high turnout of 83 per cent breaking its last year’s record of 81 per cent. The 83 per cent turnout was till 5 pm. Goa has a total of 40 seats and Punjab 117 seats. These two states are the first of the five to go to polling ahead of Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Uttarakhand which are being held simultaneously in the months of February and March. The counting of votes for all five states will begin on March 11.
In Goa, the ruling BJP is engaged in a fierce fight with the Opposition Congress, AAP and an alliance of MGP, Shiv Sena and GSM for the 40-member House. The polling in Goa started early at 7 am. BJP has put up 36 aspirants, Congress 37 and AAP is contesting on 39 seats and each of them backing independents in a few seats. More than eleven lakh voters are eligible to exercise their right in this election which has 250 candidates in fray. Voting was held across 1,642 polling booths in the state with para-military forces and State police guarding the venues.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, widely seen as the chief ministerial face of the BJP, Union Minister Shripad Naik and Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar were among the early voters who cast their ballots. The election passed off peacefully with no untoward incident reported from anywhere in the state expect some cases of EVM glitches and cancellation of voting in one booth. In Margao constituency (South Goa), re-polling has been recommended due to faulty procedure, the EC will take final decision to schedule the re-polling day.
However, Leslie Saldanha (78) died outside a polling booth in Panaji. He who was waiting to cast his vote, but collapsed and died, officials said. In Goa, one polling station was picked up which was managed totally by the persons with disability, according to the Election Commission. For the first time, women cast their votes at pink polling booths, entirely managed by women. There were at least 14 such booths across the state. Also for the first time female voters got a teddy bear and a pen and male voters got a pen.
According to sources in the Election Commission, the poll percentage could go up as there were long queues of voters at many booths across the state even after 5 pm. All those present at booth at 5 pm got a token as those in the queue were still allowed to vote. The voting will continue untill the queue ends, as the voters were in the queue before polling officially ended.
After the voting was closed, the chief electoral officer of the state addressed a press conference where it informed that for the first time 100 per cent use of electronically transmitted postal ballot system was done in Goa. Also, 100 per cent webcasting was done in Goa on all the polling stations. In Goa, cash worth Rs 2.24 crore, along with more than 75,000 litres liquor worth more than 1 crore, 6 kgs of drugs and narcotics worth 34.22 lakh were seized, it said.
The polling in Punjab started an hour late, at 8 am, due to the inclement weather. The final polling percentage in the state has settled at 78.62 per cent in Punjab, as said by EC. The highest polling was in Mansa (87.34 per cent) and the lowest in SAS Nagar (71.9 per cent). Since early morning, security personnel were deployed outside all polling stations across the state. Candidates in Punjab elections reached Golden Temple early in the morning to seek blessings ahead of voting. The total number of electors in the state is 1,98,79,069, including 93,75,546 females. There are 415 transgender voters. The total number of candidates in the fray include 81 women and a transgender.
Several polling stations, witnessed technical glitches and stray incidents of violence were reported in the state which is seeing a high-stake contest among Congress, new entrant AAP and ruling SAD-BJP combine. Two persons were injured in a clash which took place between AAP and Congress workers at Sultanpur village in Sangrur district, police said. A case of violence was reported which took place in Lalu Ghuman village in Tarn Taran. The supporters of two political parties clashed where one person sustained bullet injury. An FIR has been lodged. The main accused has been rounded up, according to the Election Commission.
A large number of voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines, installed for the first time in the ongoing Punjab Assembly polls, developed snags during the polling process in the state. A technical snag was reported in VVPAT machines in Majitha and Sangrur, an election office spokesman said, adding that the matter had been referred to the ECI.
Due to a snag in the machines, polling had to be called off a number of times, Punjab Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) V K Singh said, adding that these machines were replaced by others. Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal said Congress CM candidate Amarinder Singh is a ‘dal-badlu’. “I have 70 years experience, fought for Punjab and India, this is a small battle,” ANI quoted him as saying. For the first time webcasting from 4000 polling booth was done in Punjab, monitored from Chandigarh control room.