Himachal Pradesh elections: State braves cold, 66% turnout

Himachal Pradesh recorded a turnout of 66% as voting for the 14th Vidhan Sabha elections concluded here on Saturday.

The highest polling station, Tashgeng in Lahaul and Spiti, reported 100% voting. All 52 voters cast their vote, Election Commission (EC) officials said. The station is located at a height of more than 15,000 ft and the EC had made special arrangements for voters. At the station, election officials could be seen wearing traditional dresses and the voters were welcomed with desserts and local cuisine.

In the 2017 Assembly elections, the polling percentage was 75.57, up from 73.5 per cent in the 2012 Assembly polls.

As per officials, polling started at 8 am across the state. The highest polling of 77 per cent was reported from Shillai, while Baijnath recorded the lowest 50.25 per cent, as reported till 5 pm.

“The final figures will be known after the return of all poll parties and final scrutiny of the documents,” the EC said.

There were around 130 polling booths in tribal areas of Lahaul and Spiti, Chamba and a few in Kinnaur Assembly constituency that were affected by snow.

Overall, 7,884 polling stations were set up in the state for the total electorate of around 55.25 lakh, excluding the service electors. As many as 412 candidates, including 24 women, were in the fray this time against 338 in the 2017 Assembly elections.

Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief Pratibha Singh exhumed confidence in the party’s performance as the polling ended. She said the party would win with majority and the hard work of party workers would be rewarded.

After casting his vote in Hamirpur, Union Minister Anurag Thakur said the BJP had been able to change history and repeat governments in other states like Uttarakhand. “The party is all set to repeat victory with a comfortable margin,” he said.

Of the 68 constituencies, 48 were general, 17 reserved for Scheduled Castes and three for Scheduled Tribes.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer Maneesh Garg said for real-time monitoring of the entire polling process, 3,960 polling stations were covered through live web casting with continuous monitoring at state, district and constituency-level control rooms. A total of 157 all-women polling stations, 37 persons with disabilities stations and 136 model stations were also set up. The EC had appointed 29 general observers, 23 expenditure observers, and three police observers.

Meanwhile, the Congress wrote a letter to the EC alleging that EVMs in Rampur constituency were carried in unauthorised vehicles. As the party demanded an inquiry, EC officials said the issue had been resolved and the EVMs were being carried to the collection centre.

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