Punjab all set for counting votes

Chandigarh, March 9 : All arrangements are in place to count on Thursday the votes polled in the Punjab assembly elections in which most exit polls have predicted a victory for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The main battle to secure a majority in the 117-member Punjab assembly is between the AAP and the now ruling Congress party. Also in the fray are the SAD-BSP alliance and BJP-PLC-SAD (Sanyukt) alliance. A total of 1,304 candidates were in the fray. Apart from the ruling Congress, the AAP and the Samyukta Samaj Morcha (SSM) contested all the assembly seats. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) fielded 97 candidates and its ally BSP 20, the BJP 68 and its allies Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) of former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh 34 and SAD (Sanyukt) 15. Of the 2,14,99,804 registered voters, 71.95 per cent exercised their franchise on February 20. Prominent candidates included Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi (Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur), former Chief Ministers Parkash Singh Badal (Lamb) and Capt Amarinder Singh (Patiala-Urban) as well as AAP Chief Ministerial candidate Bhagwant Mann (Dhuri), PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu (Amritsar-East), Sukhbir Singh Badal (Jalalabad) and SSM and BKU leader Balbir Singh Rajewal (Samrala). Others in the fray are Deputy Chief Minister Om Prakash Soni (Amritsar Central) and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa (Dera Baba Nanak). In 2017, the Congress got 77 seats followed by the AAP 20, SAD 15, BJP 3 and Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) 2. Punjab Chief Electoral Officer S Karuna Raju said the counting of votes will take place in 117 centers at 66 locations across the state on Thursday from 8 am. As many as 7,500 security personnel will be deputed for the counting process. A 100-meter radius around the counting centres has been declared a “Pedestrian Zone”. In view of the vote count, prohibitory orders have been imposed in all the districts and gathering of people outside the counting centres is prohibited. DB MR ING

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