Himachal Pradesh, where polling was held across all four Lok Sabha seats of Shimla (reserved), Kangra, Hamirpur and Mandi, on Sunday, witnessed a 66.5 per cent turnout till Sunday evening.
Spokesperson for the state election department Mahesh Pathania said, “Till 5 pm 66.5 per cent turnout has been witnessed across the 7,723 polling stations and seven auxiliary polling stations in Himachal Pradesh. However, people voted after 5 pm too. The final turnout is expected to reach 70 per cent.”
“The voting was peaceful,” he said.
According to the figures received by 5 pm, the highest turnout of 70 per cent was witnessed in Una district, which falls under the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat where former BCCI chief and three-time BJP MP from Hamirpur, Anurag Thakur, is contesting against Congress candidate Ram Lal Thakur who is a five-time MLA and had won the Sri Naina Deviji state Assembly seat in the 2017 state Assembly polls.
Till 5 pm, the lowest turnout of 60 per cent was witnessed in Lahaul and Spiti, which falls under the Mandi Lok Sabha seat where former Union minister Sukh Ram’s grandson Aashray Sharma is contesting against BJP’s Ram Swaroop Sharma who is seeking re-election from the seat.
In the Shimla (reserved) Lok Sabha seat Congress candidate Col (retd) Dhani Ram Shandil (78), who has won the Shimla (reserved) Lok Sabha seat twice – in 1999 as HVC candidate, and in 2004 as Congress candidate – and was elected to the state Assembly in 2012 and 2017, is contesting against the BJP candidate Suresh Kashyap, who retired from the Indian Air Force as a senior non-commissioned officer, and, like Shandil, was elected to the state Assembly in 2012 and 2017.
In the remaining Kangra Lok Sabha seat, the contest is between Congress candidate Pawan Kajal and the BJP candidate Kishan Kapoor. Kajal was formerly associated with the BJP, but he left the party when he was denied candidature from Kangra in the 2012 state Assembly polls. He contested the election as an independent candidate and won the Kangra state Assembly seat.
He later joined the Congress and again won the 2017 state Assembly polls from Kangra. BJP’s Kapoor, the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumers Affairs Minister in the Jai Ram Thakur government, was given candidature after the sitting MP from Kangra, Shanta Kumar, who is a former chief minister and a four-time MP from the seat, was dropped from the list of BJP candidates contesting the Lok Sabha polls from the state.
The BJP, which had won all four seats in Himachal Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and had won 44 of the total 68 seats in the state Assembly elections in 2017, has an upper hand in the state.
In the year 2014, the state had witnessed a total turnout of 64.45 per cent with the turnout in the Kangra, Mandi, Hamirpur, and Shimla (reserved) seats being 63.56 per cent, 63.15 per cent, 66.98 per cent, and 63.99 per cent, respectively.