New Delhi, February 4: Voting for the single phase of Assembly elections in Punjab and Goa began this morning. Notably, Goa is voting to elect members of the 40-seat assembly whereas on the other side Punjab is voting to elect members of the 117-seat assembly. Voting will be concluded at 5 p.m.
Punjab Assembly Elections:
It will be a three-cornered contest this time around. The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance, which has been in power for the past decade, will be locked in a contest with the Congress and new entrants Aam Aadmi Party.
Voting will today also take place for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant following the resignation of state Congress Chief Amarinder Singh.
Nearly 2 crore voters in Punjab will decide the fate of 1,145 candidates, including 81 women. More than 22,500 polling stations have been set up, with over one lakh security personnel deployed for free and fair voting. Tight security arrangements have also been made for 100 critical polling stations and 5,500 vulnerable pockets of the state.
In Goa, which has 40 assembly seats, ruling BJP, the three-party alliance forged by Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, Goa Suraksha Manch and Shiv Sena, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party are the main contenders this time. A little over 11 lakh voters are eligible to vote in the coastal state.
As per the Election Department, about 11.10 lakh voters are expected to vote today, out of which 32 thousand voters will be exercising their franchise for the first time.
To ensure smooth and peaceful elections, about 90 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in the state. Sensitive and vulnerable polling stations are under the scanner with special surveillance mechanism in Porvorim constituency in North Goa.
Besides other facilities like ramps and wheelchairs, over 2700 persons with disabilities are provided pick up facility from home. After casting his vote in capital city Panaji, Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said, he is hopeful of a higher turnout than last time.
Notably, this is the first assembly elections after the government announced demonetisation. BJP will credit a win in these elections to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ban on 500-and 1000-rupee notes in November, aimed at eliminating black money. The opposition parties have attacked it on demonetisation, accusing it of pushing the poor into deeper distress with the cash crunch and slowdown of economic activity that has followed.
Interestingly, next week, Uttar Pradesh will vote in the first of seven phases and Uttarakhand and Manipur will vote in single phases for a new government. Importantly, votes for all five states will be counted on March 11.