Updated: November 9, 2017 10:13:48 pm
Himachal Pradesh recorded its highest polling in assembly elections with 74 per cent of voters exercising their franchise, the Election Commission said on Thursday. The polling was held in a peaceful atmosphere with no poll-related incident of violence reported anywhere. Some of the state assemblies, including Doon in Solan recorded 85 per cent polling, while turnout in Nalagarh was 82 per cent. Jubbal-Kotkhai constituency in Shimla district, which had been in the headlines, following Gudia rape and murder case, also recorded 82 percent voting.
The districts like Mandi, Kangra, Sirmaur and Hamirpur which hold the key to the formation of the government also had a heavy turnout along with some constituencies like Banjar and Manali in Kullu districts.
During the 2012 elections, Himachal Pradesh had recorded 73.51 per cent polling, which led to a change of the BJP regime, marking the return of Virbhadra Singh to power.
On Thursday, there was a record of 337 candidates in the fray, including Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, contesting from Sujanpur in Hamirpur district.
Expressing satisfaction over the peaceful polling, the CM said, “Voters turnout was very encouraging. It looks that they have reposed faith in the Congress government and its policies despite BJP’s massive propaganda and personalised campaign.” Dhumal, on the other hand, said the turnout shows that the people were frustrated with the corrupt Congress government and mafia raj. “The BJP’s target of 50-plus will go to 60-plus. The Congress will not be able to win more than 10 seats,” he said.
For the first time, the Election Commission (EC) used VVPAT machines at 7,521 polling booths, including 983 polling stations, which were declared vulnerable and 399 others as critical. For the first time, there were two all women-manned polling stations in each assembly constituency.
The CM, his wife Pratibha Singh and son Vikramaditya Singh, were among the first few voters at Rampur-native town of the CM. Dhumal, his wife Sheila Dhumal, two sons-Anurag Thakur (MP) and Arun Dhumal, and their wives went to the booth together to cast their votes. Among other prominent figures who went to cast their votes included, Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma in Shimla, Union Health Minister J P Nadda at Bilaspur and BJP senior Shanta Kumar at Palampur in Kangra.
Polling for all the 68 constituencies in Himachal began at 8 am on Thursday. There were long queue of voters at the polling stations in most towns early in the morning before the polling started. Over 37,000 poll officials, 17,770 policemen, home-guards and 65 companies of the paramilitary were deployed in the state for election duty. The Chief Electoral officer said about 52 EVMs and 79 VVPAT machines, which developed snags or did not work were replaced by the election staff.
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