Congress chief ministerial candidate Charanjit Singh Channi on Sunday appealed to the electorates to cast their vote for a progressive change.
A confident Channi told the media that the Congress is retaining the helm with a two-third majority.
The polling began at 8 a.m. and will continue till 6 p.m. The counting of ballots will take place on March 10.
“As Punjab is going to poll today, practice your constitutional right by casting your valuable vote for a progressive change. Also, urge your family and friends to step out and vote because every single vote counts,” Channi tweeted.
Earlier, he paid obeisance at Gurdwara Sri Katalgarh Sahib in Chamkaur Sahib.
In the polls, 1,304 candidates — 1209 men, 93 women and two transgenders — are in the fray. The counting of votes will be held on March 10.
Chief Minister Channi is in the fray from Chamkaur Sahib, a reserved seat that he has won three consecutive times. It is currently in the news for illegal sand mining.
Channi, who was elevated after Capt Amarinder Singh’s resignation on September 18 last year, is the first Scheduled Caste Chief Minister of a state that is home to 32 per cent Scheduled Caste population, the highest in the country.
He is also contesting from Bhadaur in Barnala district, a second seat, apart from Chamkaur Sahib.
Political observers told IANS that in these elections the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is seen as the alternative to the traditional parties that have dominated Punjab’s electoral space for decades.
Undeterred, SAD President Sukhbir Badal told IANS in an exclusive interview that the SAD-BSP alliance will sweep the polls and there is no question of rejoining the BJP-led NDA government. The party is determined to break Congress leader Sidhu’s arrogance. And Parkash Singh Badal is a people’s man and he’s contesting at the age of 94 is a natural corollary.
In the 2017 Assembly elections, the Congress had won an absolute majority by winning 77 seats in the 117-member Punjab assembly and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years.
The AAP had emerged as the second-largest party, winning 20 seats. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) won 15 seats, while the BJP, which had a coalition government with the Akali Dal in Punjab from 2007 to 2017, secured three seats.