Himachal Pradesh recorded its highest-ever turnout of 66.25% in the Lok Sabha elections held on Wednesday. The previous record was 65.28%, witnessed in the 1998 parliamentary elections.
Voting in the four Lok Sabha seats of Mandi, Kangra, Shimla and Hamirpur was by and large peaceful. "No untoward incident has been reported so far from any part of the state on the polling day," chief electoral officer Narender Chauhan said.
For More Read: Approx 66 % voting in Himachal Pradesh
Polling began sluggishly in the morning, with only 15% turnout recorded till 10am. It shot up to 48% by 2pm and rose to 65% by 5 pm.
Paonta Sahib assembly segment in Sirmour district (under Shimla Lok Sabha seat) witnessed the highest turnout (75.57%) in the state. Karsog assembly segment in Mandi district recorded the lowest polling (53.23%).
India's first voter, 97-year-old Shyam Saran Negi cast his ballot, at Kalpa in Kinnaur district. Negi and his wife were welcomed and honoured by the district administration.
Voting for Sujanpur assembly byelection was held simultaneously along with the Lok Sabha polls.
The turnout was around 72%.
There are 38 candidates in the fray for four parliamentary constituencies. Though the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is trying to gain a foothold in the state, the main contest is between the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
It is a high-stakes election for chief minister Virbhadra Singh, whose wife Pratibha Singh is contesting from Mandi. Former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal's son Anurag Thakur is contesting from Hamirpur against Rajinder Rana (Congress) and Kargil martyr Capt Vikram Batra's mother Kamal Kanta Batra (AAP).
In Kangra, the contest is between former chief minister Shanta Kumar (BJP) and Congress candidate Chander Kumar. From the Shimla seat, Congress greenhorn Mohan Lal Brakta is pitted against BJP's sitting MP Virender Kashyap.