75% turnout, peaceful polling in Himachal
Shimla, November 4
Voting passed off peacefully as no untoward incident was reported from any part of the state. Technical glitch in EVMs caused delays at around 10 polling booths.
The polling started off sluggishly with only 5 to 10 per cent votes having been cast by 10 am. But more voters came out as the day progressed and almost 40 per cent had exercised their democratic right by afternoon.
Great enthusiasm was seen among people, particularly in the rural, remote and tribal areas. Long queues were witnessed at the polling booths and a festive atmosphere prevailed as womenfolk dressed in colourful attires came in groups to exercise their right.
Chief Electoral Officer Narinder Chauhan said highest polling percentage was recorded in relatively backward Sirmour district (81.48 per cent).
Nalagarh constituency saw the highest voter turnout of 94.80 per cent, while the lowest polling percentage of 58.77 per cent was reported from Shimla Urban constituency.
Sources said the voter turnout in Chamba district was 75.25 per cent, Kangra 72.68 per cent, Lahaul & Spiti 68 per cent, Kullu 78.74 per cent, Mandi 76.95 per cent, Hamirpur 70.33 per cent, Una 75.06 per cent, Bilaspur 73 per cent, Solan 80.34 per cent, Shimla 69.85 per cent and Kinnaur 74.28 per cent.
Necessary arrangements have been made to keep the EVMs in safe custody till the votes are counted on December 20. Prominent leaders in the fray include Chief Minister PK Dhumal, Pradesh Congress Committee(PCC) chief Virbhadra Singh, Leader of the Opposition Vidya Stokes and former PCC chief Kaul Singh.
The ruling BJP and the opposition Congress are contesting all seats, while the BSP, which won the solitary Kangra seat in the 2007 elections, has fielded 66 candidates.
The third serious contender is the Himachal Lok Morcha (HLM), a three-party alliance formed by the breakaway BJP group, the Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP), with the CPM and the CPI. The alliance is contesting 58 seats - HLP (36), CPM (15) and CPI (7) - and has extended support to three Independent candidates.
The NCP is contesting 13 seats, Trinamool Congress 25, SP 14, HLP 36, Lok Jan Shakti Party 17, Himachal Swabhiman Party 16, Shiv Sena 4, Indian Justice Party 1, Bhartiya Bahujan Party 2, and Hindustan Nirman Dal 1. There are 106 independents in the field.
One of the first Indians to cast his ballot in Independent India, Shyam Saran Negi (95), of Kalpa village in Kinnaur district was among those who exercised their franchise today. His wife also cast her ballot along with him.
As many as 267 out of the total 333 voters cast their votes at the highest polling station - Hikkim (14,567 ft) in Lahaul and Spiti.
The Ka polling station in Kinnaur district, which has the lowest number of 18 electors, recorded 100 per cent turnout.
Virbhadra Singh, who is contesting from Shimla Rural, cast his ballot at Rampur.
He claimed that the high turnout was indicative of strong anti-incumbency sentiment among the people and the Congress was set to return to power.
PK Dhumal, on the other hand, maintained that the BJP was set to win at least 45 seats.