Chandigarh/Dehradun, Jan 31: Elections to the assemblies of Punjab and Uttarakhand recorded a heavy turnout of over 77 and 70 per cent with Akali-BJP combine and BJP locked in a hard battle with Congress to retain power in the two states.
While the polling figure in Punjab was expected to cross the 77 per cent mark, voting percentage in Uttaranchal was around 70 per cent, the Election Commission in Delhi said quoting figures furnished the polling authorities in the two states. Barring stray incidents, the polling in both the states was peaceful, Commission officials said.
However, a report from Firozepur in Punjab said that one person died of gunshot injuries during a clash. The key elections in Punjab and Uttarakhand, where NDA government have been in power, will decide the fate of 1866 candidates including chief ministerial aspirants Prakash Badal, Amarinder Singh and B C Khanduri. Polling began on a dull note due to the morning chill in both the states but picked as the day progressed. Long queues of voters, including large number of women, were seen at the polling stations.
Earlier, various parties had complained that the cold weather conditions, especially in Uttarakhand, might hamper the turnout. Minor skirmishes were reported from Ludhiana, Bathinda and Amritsar in Punjab.
In Ludhiana, BJP Yuva Morcha General Secretary Sanjay Kapoor received minor injuries in a clash, while some people pelted stones at the office of Sirsa- based Dera Sacha Sauda situated on Amrik Singh Road in Bathinda. While there are 1078 contestant vying for 117 seats in Punjab, the number of candidates for 70 seats in Uttarakhand is 866. Counting to votes will take place on March 6.
Talking to reporters before leaving for Patiala, state Congress President Amarinder Singh claimed that Dera Sacha Sauda, which had supported the party in the 2007 polls, was backing it again.
"This was expected the way Akalis had treated the Dera followers," he said. Claiming that there was a "clear wave" in his party's favour, Singh, who is the party's chief ministerial candidate, claimed, "We are winning hands down and as I have said we will cross 70 seats...People of Punjab want to oust the Akalis." Over 250 contestants including Singh, his wife and Union Minister Preneet Kaur, had visited the Dera premises at Sirsa and sought blessings from the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.