Chandigarh: Voting for the Punjab Panchayat polls were held on Sunday, December 30 and the counting was held thereafter. Congress registered a thumping victory and swept away the polls much to the disappointment of its rival- the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

The SAD alleged that the polls were rigged and alleged complete hijacking of the panchayat elections by the Congress party. It said that this amounted to the murder of democracy and lambasted the state Election Commission for failing to hold free and fair elections.

The panchayat elections were held in 13,276 panchayats that saw a heavy turnout of 80 per cent. Bathinda and Fazilka recorded 86 per cent polling, Mohali 84 per cent, Pathankot 82 per cent, Patiala and Sangrur 81 per cent, Moga 78 per cent, Fatehgarh Sahib 77 per cent and Muktsar 77 per cent.

Minor clashes and incidents of firing and booth capturing were also reported at over a dozen places. Tension prevailed in some villages in Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ferozepur and other districts. Incidents of firing between both the parties were also reported from some places.

According to the state Election Commission, over 1.27 crore voters were eligible to vote. The voting started at 8 AM at 17,268 polling booths and ended at 4 PM.

While there were 28,375 sarpanch (village headman) candidates in the fray for the 13,276 panchayats, 104,027 candidates contested for the posts of panch (village council member). 1,863 sarpanches were elected unopposed after the end of the withdrawal process of nomination papers, and 22,203 panches have also been elected unopposed.

Authorities in Punjab had received 210,494 nominations for the panchayat elections. Of these 48,111 nominations papers were filed for the post of sarpanch and 162,383 nominations papers filed for the post of panch. A total of 83,831 panches would be elected for 13,276 panchayats.