Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, November 8
The stage is set for a battle royal in Himachal as 50,25,941 voters will vote tomorrow to decide the fate of 337 candidates in 68 Assembly constituencies.
“Elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful, free and fair elections. More than 11,500 police personnel, 6,400 Home Guard jawans, including 1,000 from Uttarakhand, and 65 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been deployed to ensure that no untoward incident takes place on the day,” said Chief Electoral Officer Pushpendra Rajput.
As many as 37,600 personnel and 789 officials manning 196 sectors had reached their destinations, he added.
All 399 critical and vulnerable polling stations on the border areas adjoining Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and J&K are manned by the CAPF. The border areas are also sealed. As many as 84 cameras will monitor the movement of vehicles and people.
The maximum number of vulnerable polling stations are 297 in Kangra district and minimum two are in Kinnaur district. A three-tier security has been provided to safeguard strongrooms and the places will be guarded by the CAPF and police.
As many as 337 candidates are in the fray out of which 19 are women. The maximum number of 12 is in Dharamsala and minimum two candidates are in Jhandutta.
The Congress and the BJP are contesting all 68 seats, while the BSP and the CPM have fielded 42 and 14 candidates, followed by the Swabhiman Party and Lok Gathbandhan Party (six each), Rashtriya Azad Manch (4), CPI (3), MCP and SP two each and 112 Independents. The Hikkim polling station in Spiti, situated at 14,567 ft, has 194 voters and the Ghaluwal polling station of the Haroli constituency has 985 electors. Six voters are at Kaa village in Kinnaur, while Gukul in Kasauli has 1,390 electors.
The Theog constituency in Shimla district has the highest 161 number of polling stations, whereas minimum 84 polling stations have been set up in Dharamsala. Rajput said the state had 100 per cent Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) holders and 7,525 EVMs and VVPAT were being used for voting.The VVPAT machines were being used for the first time in this Vidhan Sabha election and 10 per cent of total EVMs and VVPATs had been kept in reserve.
Complaints and redressal
- The Election Commission received 274 complaints of violation of the model code of conduct, of which 235 have been disposed of. Twelve complaints of paid news have been received of which notice has been issued in eight complaints.
- Eighteen cases were registered under the Prevention of Disfigurement Act. The Election Department has removed 2,215 hoardings, 3,067 banners, 2,309 wall paintings, 4,991 posters and 15,718 flags of parties from public and private properties.
Choppers, docs on standby
- Keeping in view the tough topography, copters and a team of doctors have been kept on standby in case of any eventuality.
- Election material was sent via helicopter to Bara Bhangal in Kangra due to road inaccessibility. There are 345 voters in the village.
- Areas inaccessible by roads: Poll parties had to trek more than 16 km to reach Fanotha and Groundi polling stations in Chamba district, 20 km to reach Kasha in Shimla district, 25 km to reach Gaggal village in Kangra district, 20 km to reach Shakti polling booth in Banjar in Kullu district.
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