Polling to the Shahkot bypoll, for which the three major political parties-Congress, Akali Dal and AAP is crucial is currently underway. The Shahkot bypoll was necessitated following the demise of Akali MLA Ajit Singh Kohar in February this year.
Ruling party Congress has fielded Hardev Singh Laddi while Akali Dal has given ticket to Kohar's son Naib Singh Kohar. Aam Aadmi Party has nominated Rattan Singh Kakkar Kalan for the bypoll.
As many as 1,72,676 voters will decide the fate of 12 candidates who are in the fray.
The Election Commission has deployed a total of 1,022 personnel of security forces including six companies of the Border Security Force in Shahkot.
"All the necessary arrangements have been made to hold free and fair Shahkot bypoll," an official spokesman of the election office said today.
The voting started at 7 am and will go on till 6 pm. Holiday has been declared for the electors of Shahkot Assembly constituency on May 28.
The counting of votes will take place on May 31.
The Electronic Voting Machines and Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) have been deployed at all the polling stations while 15 per cent additional EVMs and VVPAT have been kept as reserve if some malfunctioning is developed during polling.
With the ruling party Congress eyeing to maintain winning momentum on the development agenda, opposition party Akali Dal is striving to retain its pocket borough from where Ajit Singh Kohar had remained five-time MLA.
The Main opposition party Aam Aadmi Party which faced humiliating defeat during Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll and civic polls is desperately looking for the victory.
Congress candidate Laddi came under severe attack with opposition parties accusing him of being involved in illegal sand mining.
The party had to even face embarrassment when an FIR was lodged by the then Mehatpur SHO against Laddi in illegal mining case, though Congress accused SHO of acting at the behest of SAD and AAP.
However, the SHO was replaced by the Election Commission over complaints of bias and violation of the code of conduct in filing of an FIR against Hardev Singh Laddi.
With SAD chief Sukhbir Badal taking the charge of the poll campaign for Akali candidate, the opposition party managed to bring three leaders of AAP and one of Congress into its party fold.
AAP leaders C D Singh Kamboj, H S Walia and Hans Raj Rana shifted to Akali Dal while senior Congress leader and former home minister Brij Bhupinder Singh Lalli joined Akali Dal.
During campaigning, Akali kept its attack on the ruling Congress on the issues like illegal sand mining, molasses leakage incident, alleged removal of Sikh history from Class 12 and "reneging" on polls promises.
Congress, on the other hand, charged previous Akali-BJP regime with "ruining" the state and "total lack of development" in the Shahkot Assembly constituency which was held by Akali MLA.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh even lashed out at the Akalis for misleading people on farm debt waiver issue and leaving the state in fiscal crisis.
(With PTI inputs)