Voting picks up in Haryana; brisk in Chandigarh

Voting picks up in Haryana; brisk in Chandigarh

After a dull start in the morning, polling picked up in Haryana with nearly 40 per cent of the electorates casting their votes in 10 Lok Sabha constituencies in the first six hours while brisk polling was recorded in Chandigarh with over 30 per cent voters exercising their franchise.

After polling began on a dull note in Haryana, it started picking up and over 40 per cent of the 1.6 crore voters had cast their vote during first six hours of polling which commenced at 7 this morning, officials said adding that polling was by and larger peaceful.

"Polling has started picking up and there are long queues at many places," Haryana's Chief Electoral Officer Shrikant Walgad said.

The 10 Lok Sabha seats are witnessing a four-cornered contest among candidates of Congress, BJP-HJC BL combine, main opposition Indian National Lok Dal and new entrant Aam Aadmi Party.

According to Chandigarh Deputy Commissioner-cum-Returning Officer, polling began in Chandigarh on a brisk note and nearly 30 per cent of the six lakh voters had cast their vote in over five hours.

In Haryana, among those who cast their vote early included HJC chief Kuldeep Bishnoi, who along with his wife Renuka and other family members exercised his franchise at Adampur in Hisar district.

AAP's leader and Gurgaon candidate Yogendra Yadav cast his vote in Saharanwas village in Rewari district while greenhorn and INLD candidate from Hisar, Dushyant Chautala voted in Sirsa.

Congress' Rohtak candidate Deepender Singh Hooda, son of Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda, was likely to miss his date with the ballot as he is undergoing treatment at All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), New Delhi, for his back ailment, sources said.

However, the Chief Minister accompanied by his wife Asha and other family members cast votes in their native village Sanghi in Rohtak district.

The 17 candidates are in fray in from Chandigarh including Congress candidate and former Railway Minister Bansal, who is seeking re-election for the fifth time and is pitted against three women in the four-cornered contest.

However, two prominent women he is fighting against- BJP's Kirron Kher and AAP's Gul Panag - are not registered as voters here. The other woman candidate in the fray here is BSP's Jannat Jahan-ul-Haq.

Bansal accompanied by his family members, cast his vote in the morning.

In Haryana, the key candidates amongst a total of 230 include industrialist Naveen Jindal, Deepender Hooda, Avtar Singh Bhadana, Shruti Chaudhry (Cong) and former Union Minister Rao Inderjit Singh (BJP).

Officials said polling had to be stopped for a brief period at two polling booths in Ambala Parliamentary constituency after EVM machines malfunctioned.

Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party's Rohtak candidate Naveen Jaihind alleged he was threatened by two unidentified motorcycle-borne men. 

Jaihind said the two accused threatened him this morning near Pandit Neki Ram Government college here when he was close to a polling booth.

"They stopped me and threatened to teach me a lesson after the polls get over," 32-year-old Jaihind, who is taking on Chief Minister's son Deepender Singh from Rohtak, told PTI.

In Haryana Congress's Naveen Jindal, Arvind Sharma and Avtar Singh Bhadana are seeking third term from Kurukshetra, Karnal and Faridabad respectively.

Congress nominee of 2009 general election and former Union Minister Rao Inderjit Singh is also running for Lok Sabha for the third consecutive term, but this time on the ticket of BJP, which he recently joined after snapping ties with the Congress.

Three Congress nominees Deepender Hooda (Rohtak), Shruti Chaudhary (Bhiwani Mahendargarh) and Ashok Tanwar (Sirsa) and HJC-BL chief Kuldeep Bishnoi are seeking re-election to the Lok Sabha.

From Sonipat, Congress has fielded its Gohana MLA Jagbir Singh Malik after party's sitting MP Jitender Malik opted out of the race.

BJP has fielded former MP, R L Kataria from Ambala (SC) while Aam Aadmi Party's Yogendra Yadav is among those in fray from Gurgaon.

Of the 10 Lok Sabha seats, at present Congress has nine MPs while Haryana Janhit Congress has one MP from the Hissar constituency.

Haryana has 16,240 polling stations, including about 11,700 in rural areas.

Chief Electoral Officer Shrikant Walgad said about 50,000 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being used for voting in the State which include 18,000 control units and about 32,000 ballot units.

He said that maximum number of 41 candidates are contesting from Hisar Parliamentary Constituency whereas the minimum number of 14 candidates each are contesting from Ambala and Rohtak Parliamentary constituencies.

Walgad said that the candidates include eight of BJP, 10 of BSP, two of CPI, three of CPM, 10 each of INC and INLD, two of HJC (BL), 64 of other Registered Political Parties and 121 Independent Candidates.

Haryana Police DGP S N Vashisht said 74 Companies of Central Para Military Forces (CPMF) comprising of personnel from CRPF including women battalion, BSF, ITBP and Armed Police of Gujarat, J & K and Rajasthan, 45,000 personnel of Haryana Police and 20,000 Home Guards have been deployed to maintain security.

He said after voting get over, seven companies of BSF would remain in Haryana to ensure safety of the EVMs till the counting of votes on May 16.

The DGP said the border with neighbouring states, including Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have been sealed. Besides 350 security check points have also been set up within the state.

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