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HP VOTES
65-72% turnout
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 19
The second phase of the assembly elections witnessed a moderate-to-heavy turnout today with 65 to 72 per cent of the electorate exercising their franchise. After a sluggish start polling to the keenly fought assembly elections picked up as the day progressed.

Barring minor incidents polling was peaceful. The turnout was slightly lower compared to the 2003 assembly poll when the state recorded 74.51 per cent polling. It was almost equal to the 1998 and 1993 assembly poll when the turnout was 71.23 per cent and 71.50 per cent, respectively.

However, Chief electoral officer Manisha Nanda said that as per reports received from various segments the average polling ranged from 65 to 67 per cent. The exact figure would be available only tomorrow.

There were four incidents of scuffles between political workers, two in Kangra district and one in Mandi. In one incident in the Sulah constituency BJP candidates Vipin Parmar were manhandled by an employee of the Forest Department.

In another incident at Dadahu in the Renuka segment three persons received minor injuries. A case was registered against the son of Congress candidate Prem Singh in this connection.

A polling booth was set up at Bara Bhangal at 9000 ft for 45 electors out of which 42 cast their votes. Another special polling booth was set up for 13 patients of the leprosy home at Mando Dhar in the Kasauli constituency where 11 votes were cast. One of them Bir Singh was 107 years old. Similarly, in the Kuthera island in the Pong Dam area 51 of the 66 electors exercised their franchise. These booths were set up for the first time.

The turnout was heavy in Mandi, Bilaspur, Una, Sirmour, and Chamba where more than 70 per cent electors cast their votes. Hamirpur and Kangra also recorded a good turnout with 68 to 70 per cent polling. However, in Shimla, Solan and Kulu districts 65 to 68 per cent voters exercise their right. Interestingly, the lowest turnout of 48 per cent was recorded in the Shimla constituency. Rohru and Jubbal Kotkhai had the highest turnout of 73 per cent in Shimla district.

There are 324 candidates in fray for 65 seats polling for which was held today. In the first phase elections were held for three tribal seats on November 14.

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