On Sunday i.e., 20 February 2022, polling in Punjab and Phase 3 of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections was conducted peacefully. The turnout percentage was 65.32% in Punjab and 60.46% in Uttar Pradesh, as per Election Commission of India records.
In Punjab, voting was held for all the 117 seats in a single phase with 1,304 candidates, including 93 women and two transgender candidates.
The turnout in Punjab was less by around 12% as compared to 2017 election figure. a Lower voter turnout led to speculations about a “tactical understanding between traditional parties”.
In Uttar Pradesh, polls were conducted at 59 Assembly seats spread over 16 districts in Phase 3, with 627 candidates in the fray. Chief Electoral Officer Ajay Kumar Shukla expected rise in the turnout. 133 candidates had declared criminal cases against them in the third phase.
On the eve of polling, a purported video of Punjab BJP president Ashwani Sharma had gone viral on social media. It showed him addressing a gathering, stating “…a vote for AAP means a vote to break Punjab. If you don’t want to vote for us (BJP), vote for Congress. But don’t vote for them who betrays the nation.” Mr. Sharma, however, dismissed it by asserting that his statement was twisted to mislead people. The BJP even filed a complaint with the Election Commission, accusing the Congress of “doctoring” the video and demanded action.
“There is speculation that the traditional parties in power may have some tactical understanding in some constituencies. Some constituencies have very high voter turnout while some others have very low, why?,” asked Ashutosh Kumar, Professor of Political Science at Panjab University.
Although the polling across Punjab was by and large peaceful, a few incidents of minor clashes were reported. Chief Electoral Officer S. Karuna Raju said, “Some minor poll-related incidents were witnessed in the State and a total of 18 First Information Reports have been registered on the day of polling to avert any untoward incidents”.