Polling for all 68 constituencies in Himachal Pradesh began at 8 am on Thursday and will conclude at 5 pm. Over 37,000 poll officials, 17,770 policemen, home-guards and 65 companies of the paramilitary are deployed in the state for election duty, the Election Commission said on Wednesday. The body has also introduced live webcasts from 2,300 polling stations to ensure free and fair polling across the state’s 12 districts.
For the first time in the state, the EC is using VVPAT machines to ensure there’s “no compromise”on secrecy of the votes.
There are 337 candidates in the fray today, including sitting Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, among 62 sitting MLAs, contesting the polls.
Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017 highlights:
06.30 pm: Over 75 per cent polling recorded in Himachal Pradesh. This year’s voting is higher than 73.51 per cent recorded in the elections held in 2012.
06.15 pm: A record turnout of 84 per cent polling took place at Doon, Baddi in Solan district and Jubbal Kotkhai has 81 per cent polling.
06.00 pm: 71 per cent voting recorded in the state of Himachal Pradesh as polling ends at 5 pm.
05.30 pm: The polling time in Himachal Pradesh ends at 5 pm. A few visuals from a polling station in Mandi.
05.00 pm: Earlier, India’s oldest voter Shyam Saran Negi, after casting his vote, said everyone must work in the nation’s interest.
04.30 pm: 64.8 per cent polling recorded in the state of Himachal Pradesh till 4 pm.
03:45 pm: The EVM was replaced but after three votes it again developed some snag. The EVM was being repaired and polling would commence soon, election officials said, according to PTI.
03.30 pm: The polling in the state was peaceful but there were reports of malfunctioning of EVMs and VVAPTs from several places and polling could not be held in Gondla polling booth in tribal Lahaul and Spiti district.
2.41 pm: Senior Congress leader Vidya Stokes has cast her vote at a polling booth in Barubag, in Shimla, reports ANI.
2.27 pm: 54.9 per cent polling recorded till 2 pm in Himachal Pradesh. Some polling booths in Sujanpur constituency of BJP CM candidate Dhumal crossed 65 per cent by 2 pm.
2.20 pm: If you’re just joining us, here’s a quick update: polling began at 8 am this morning in Himachal Pradesh. All 68 constituencies have gone to polls. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, after casting his vote, said he is confident that the Congress will be elected back to power. Meanwhile, BJP CM pick Prem Kumar Dhumal also cast his vote this morning, and told reporters that the party expects to win over 60 seats in the polls. There are 337 candidates contesting the polls today. The results will be declared on December 18.
1.15 pm: By 12 noon, Kinnaur district recorded its highest ever polling percentage of 35 per cent.
12.42 pm: The Election Commission is allowing citizens of Himachal Pradesh to cast their votes by producing any one document of the 12 identity documents, reports PTI.
12.20 pm: Till 12 noon, 28.8 per cent voting recorded.
12.00 pm: Faulty VVPAT machines delayed polling in Sirmaur district by 15-20 minutes this morning, reports PTI.
11.30 am: Union Minister JP Nadda has cast his vote at a polling booth in Bilaspur.
11.20 am: VVPATs are being used in the election for the first time in the state, along with EVMs. There are 7,525 polling booths in the hill state. At least 10 per cent of the total number of machines have been kept in reserve.
11.16 am: India’s first voter, Shyam Saran Negi, poses for a picture at Kalpa in Kinmaur. Saran has never skipped voting in a single election since October 25, 1951 — the day on which he became the first person to vote in Independent India’s first general election. He is only surviving voter of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh, which went to the polls much before rest of India in 1951. The polls had been advanced by five due to the impending winter snowfall.
11.11 am: Here’s a breakup of the voting percentage till 10 am: Shimla (16 per cent), Shimla Rural (20 per cent), Kasumpti (22 per cent), Chaupal (15 per cent), Rohru (16 per cent), Theog (19 per cent) and Rampur (18 per cent).
11.01 am: Here’s a picture of Prem Kumar Dhumal. , 72, at his village on the morning of the Himachal Pradesh polls.
10.38 am: In the first two hours, Himachal has recorded 13.72 per cent polling. There have been long queues at polling booths all morning, in fact, our reporter on ground says people starting pouring in to vote well before 8 am this morning. The weather is also playing good host today!
10.31 am: Virbhadra Singh tweets again. “The indelible ink is the mark of indelible history of flourishing Himachal under Congress. The days to come will see a new breakthrough in development & welfare, and new benchmarks will be set for other states to emulate. #DevbhoomiWithCongress,” he says.
10.02 am: Meanwhile, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Dhumal and Anurag Thakur, a BJP MP from Hamirpur, have also cast their votes. Remember, Himachal goes to polls in one phase today, and voting will conclude at 5 pm.
9.50 am: Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh says he is confident of getting majority in the election. “The next government too will be of Congress,” he is quoted as saying by ANI. The incumbent CM cast his vote at a polling booth in Shimla, along with his son, Vikramaditya.
9.37 am: BJP president Amit Shah too, has taken to Twitter, to appeal to the people of the state to re-establish the prestige of the state.
9.31 am: On the eve of polling the state, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Twitter had called it an honour to work for the people of Himachal Pradesh and appealed to them to vote for the Congress. “Hard work & sincerity run in the veins of Himachal ppl. It’s an honor to dedicate my life to your service. Even personal attacks too couldn’t deter me. I believe, together we can take HP to newer heights. Once again, I appeal to you to vote for Congress,” he tweeted.
9.29 am: The Congress, from its verified Twitter handle, says, “Himachal stands united to bring back the govt that has worked tirelessly for the development of the state under the leadership of a pioneer @virbhadrasingh Ji. #DevbhoomiWithCongress.”
9.27 am: “Time has come, people have made up their minds to get rid of Congress who has looted Himachal Pradesh. The state needs a senior leader like Dhumalji to look at the affairs of Himachal which is under the debt of more than Rs 50,000 crore,” Anurag Thakur, a BJP MP from Hamirpur, says, reports ANI.
9.25 am: “We aimed to get 50+ seats but now that we are receiving so much support from all sections of the society, we expect it to cross 60,” Prem Kumar Dhumal, BJP’s CM candidate, is quoted as saying by ANI. He is contesting from Sujanpur constituency.
9.11 am: In a tweet this morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the people of Himachal Pradesh to vote in “record numbers.”
आज देवभूमि हिमाचल प्रदेश में मतदान का दिन है। मेरी विनती है कि सभी मतदाता लोकतंत्र के महापर्व में भाग लें और भारी संख्या में मतदान करें। Urging people of Himachal Pradesh to vote in recrod numbers.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 9, 2017
9.03 am: Ahead of the polls, Himachal witnessed 12 days of intense campaigning by the BJP and Congress. At least 450 rallies were held by the two parties, including seven by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and six by BJP president Amit Shah. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addressed three rallies in the hill state.
8.48 am: Voting at polling station number 55 in Kinnaur, Reckong Peo, has not yet begun due to a technical glitch, reports ANI. This polling booth is managed by all women.
8.46 am: This election, the ruling party, Congress, is contesting all 68 seats. BJP is as well. BSP is contesting 42 seats, CPI(M) 14 seats.
8.44 am: Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is contesting the polls from Arki, while Dhumal has shifted his constituency to Sujanpur.
8.32 am: Ahead of the polls, the manifestos of BJP and Congress focus on farmers, youth and women’s safety. Here’s a comparison of what the two parties are offering: Congress promises 1,50,000 jobs, BJP focuses on skill development.
Apart from this, the BJP focused on corruption as a major issue and targeted CM Virbhadra Singh. The Congress has been lashing out at the central government for demonetisation, GST and the state of the economy.
8.29 am: The Election Commission recently ordered that exit polls for the Himachal Pradesh polls cannot be released before December 14. This is to ensure it does not influence voting in Gujarat, which goes to polls in two phases on December 9 and 14. The counting for both states, Himachal and Gujarat, will be held on December 18.
8.02 am: Voting has begun in the hill state. It will conclude at 5 pm.
7.39 am: Himachal Pradesh is one of the last remaining states in which Congress is in power, and is crucial for the party to retain. On the other hand, the BJP swept the state during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, winning all four seats including the Mandi seat, known to be a Congress stronghold.
7.36 am: Virbhadra Singh, 83, and Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, are chief ministerial candidates for the Congress and BJP respectively. Singh is fighting for a seventh term as the chief minister, while the BJP is looking to stage a comeback in the state.
7.34 am: Here’s a quick look at the incumbent Himachal Assembly: The 68-member House is ruled by the Congress which has 36 seats. The main Opposition, BJP, has 26 seats. Since 1985, the state has never elected a party other than the Congress or the BJP.
7.30 am: Here are some pictures from polling stations in Himachal.
7.10 am: As we wait for voting to begin, here’s a quick guide to what’s on the cards. There are 68 constituencies going to polls in 12 districts in the state. There are 337 candidates in the fray, of which 328 are male and only 19 female. The counting for the polls will be held on December 18.
7.00 am: The voting for the polls will be held in one phase today, while counting will be conducted on December 18. The 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly is set to expire in January 2018.
6.55 am: Welcome to our live blog on the Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections. On the day of voting, we bring you all the news and updates from the hill-state.
(With inputs from ENS and agencies)