Himachal Pradesh braved the snow and chill to register a 68 per cent voter turnout on Wednesday, the second and last phase of elections.
Polling was peaceful, with no incidents reported from anywhere except minor scuffles in Kangra district, said Chief Electoral Officer Manisha Nanda.
“The average polling percentage in the state is 68 per cent, so far as the details available with us. It can go up, as the polling parties from far flung areas of the state are yet to give the figures,” Nanda said.
She added that the three new polling stations set up in the remote areas of Bara Banghal, Pong Dam and Dharampur registered more than 90 per cent polling, though the numbers in these booths were also small.
Both the BJP as well as the ruling Congress claimed that the high turnout indicated a victory for them.
“The heavy polling reflects anti-incumbency. The BJP is heading for a victory in Himachal. The majority youth and women have come out to vote against the Congress government on issues of unemployment and price rise,” said state BJP chief Jai Ram Thakur.
His Congress counterpart Viplove Thakur, countered: “People have come out in large numbers to vote for development by the Congress government. They have voted for our policy of giving them subsidised ration, which controlled the prices of essential commodities. We are surely going to benefit from the heavy polling.”
Polling started on a low note with only 10 to 15 per cent turnout because of the chill but gathered steam by 2 pm when it went up to 45 per cent.
A field visit in different parts of the state revealed that a large number of youth and women voters turned out to vote. Surprisingly, the election remained a lack-lustre affair in the state capital Shimla, where the polling percentage remained at 52.42 per cent.
Union Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anand Sharma, a local resident, was not allowed to vote at Sanjhauli as he did not have his voter ID card. He had to bring another identity proof before he could vote.