Chandigarh: Voting for the 26 wards of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation began on Saturday morning, election officials said here. The rush of voters at the 452 polling booths across the 114 square km union territory was low in the first 30 minutes after the voting time officially began at 8 am - owing to a cold wave in the region.

The fate of 152 candidates will be decided in Saturday's polling for the 26 municipal wards. The main contest is between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiromani Akali Dal (BJP-SAD) alliance. Others in the fray include the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a few smaller parties and independents.

The 36-member municipal corporation house comprises 26 elected councillors, nine nominated councillors and the local MP. Union minister for parliamentary affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal is the Chandigarh MP.

"We will win a minimum of 20 seats. Congress has ensured development of the city in the last few years," Chandigarh territorial Congress committee president BB Bahl said.

Chandigarh BJP president Sanjay Tandon said: "Our agenda is positive and serious. We want development of Chandigarh in a bigger way. We will win at least 20 seats."

Tight security arrangements have been made by the police for the polling which ends at 5 pm. Over 4,300 police personnel are manning the city and polling booths. In the last Municipal Corporation elections in 2006, only over 45 percent of the city's nearly 500,000 voters had cast their vote. Election officials are expecting more voting this time.