Thursday, June 27, 2019

Posted at: May 19, 2019, 8:07 AM; last updated: May 19, 2019, 9:11 AM (IST)

53.3 lakh to decide fate of 45

Of 7,723 polling booths, 373 are critical, 946 vulnerable | 136 for women

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 18

A total of 53,30,154 voters, including 27,24,111 men, 26,05,996 women, and 47 belonging to the third gender, will vote to elect four MPs from the four segments of Shimla (reserved), Mandi, Kangra and Hamirpur. The highest number of 17 candidates are in the fray from Mandi, which is why each of the 2,079 polling booths in this segment will have two electronic voting machines.

Devesh Kumar, Chief Electoral Officer, said all 7,730 polling parties in the state had reached their destination. People would cast their vote in 7,723 polling booths which include 373 critical and 946 vulnerable, and an additional seven auxiliary booths for the convenience for aged and ill.

There are 45 candidates in the fray with the lone woman candidate being Nisha Katoch (37), candidate of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha on the Kangra seat.

There are 136 polling booths (two in each Assembly segment) which will be managed by only women polling staff and 10 by differently abled persons. After exhaustive mapping, 37,852 differently abled people were identified.

More than 20,000 police, Home Guard jawans and paramilitary forces have been deployed. The manual counting of votes on five VVPATs in each of the 68 Assembly segments will be done.

To ensure free and smooth elections, 207 flying squads, 207 static surveillance teams, 77 assistant expenditure observers, 134 video surveillance teams, 70 video viewing teams and 72 accounting teams have been constituted. Besides, nine general observers, five expenditure observers and two police observers will keep an eye on the polls.

Rain may play spoilsport

With most parts of the state being lashed by heavy rain for the last two days, bad weather could play dampener for high voter turnout in Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur, Pangi and higher reaches of Shimla, Chamba, Mandi and Kullu. Election officials are keeping their  fingers crossed as it is bound to  impact polling. It is after trudging 40 km that a polling party today reached Bara Bhangal of Baijnath in Kangra to set up a booth as inclement weather prevented their airlifting. Though two helicopters from the IAF and BSF are at the disposal of the staff, turbulent weather prevented these from taking off with polling parties for Bara Bhangal. 


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