13 May : Chandigarh people breaking a 20-year record in a largely-peaceful poll. The previous highest turnout was 66 per cent in 1984 general elections.The fate of three major contenders Pawan Bansal (Congress), Satya Pal Jain (BJP) and Harmohan Dhawan (BSP), besides 11 other candidates, was sealed in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) by 3,39,140 voters (1,89,161 males and 1,49,979 females) out of a total of 5,22,650 voters.
The jump in the voters’ turnout from a mere 52 per cent to 65 per cent this time is credited to an increased awareness among the people about the right to vote in the city, particularly in urban areas, officials said.
The voting commenced on a brisk note at 7 a.m. with almost one-fourth (120,782) voters exercising their right to vote in the first two hours. And by 11 a.m. almost 40 per cent of the city voters comprising 2,06,173 voters cast their votes.
A visit to the different polling stations revealed that voters, particularly young voters, turned in large numbers to cast their votes. The actual voting was preceded by mock poll in which 12 EVMs at various polling stations were found to be not fully functional due to low batteries. In fact, two of the EVMs allegedly developed a technical snag in Sector 22 sending poll officials in a tizzy.
Serpentine queues were witnessed at several places in the urban areas, colonies and villages. There were also reports of activists of various political parties ferrying voters to the polling stations and trying to influence the voters and resorting to impersonation.
Terming the polling as a "resounding success" chief electoral officer (CEO) Pradip Mehra thanked the electorate, polling staff and security forces for the "incident-free" voting which was one of the highest in the city's electoral history.
Even as several cases of minor altercations over bogus voting were reported between Congress and BJP activists, Bansal, Jain and Dhawan visited different polling stations to take a stock of the situation.
The polling was preceded by a high-pitched campaign launched by the major political parties with allegations and counter-allegation ruling the roost. While Bansal is seeking votes on development plank and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jain and Dhawan had made the anti-incumbency and failure of Bansal and UPA government on all fronts as major poll issues.
Given the importance of the lone seat, star campaigners of different parties, including AICC president Sonia Gandhi, BSP supremo Mayawati, RJD chief Lalu Yadav, Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav and BJP general secretaries Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.
Meanwhile, the EVMs have been stored at the four counting Government College for Girls, Sector 42,Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology, Sector 26, Government College, Sector 46, and Government College, Sector 11, and amid tight security.The counting will take place on May 16. Courtsey : TRIBUNE, PRO UT