While conducting polls in the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh has always been a daunting task for the Election Commission, more than 60,000 employees have been deputed to ensure that the polling process is conducted smoothly on Wednesday.
The staff on polling duty had to traverse through hostile terrains to reach the stations. As nearly 70 of the total 7,382 polling stations are not accessible by road, by Tuesday evening, the EC had almost completed the task of dispatching election material by using helicopters, other vehicles and mules.
This time, more than 48.1 lakh voters, including 24.23 lakh men and 23.21 lakh women, would exercise their franchise to elect four parliamentary representatives.
Himachal Pradesh chief electoral officer Narender Chauhan said arrangements had been made for 7,382 polling stations and three auxiliary polling stations, including at Bada Bhangal, Jutogh and Dharampur.
“Auxiliary polling stations have been set up to support the existing polling stations in the wake of special circumstances,” said Chauhan, adding that as Jutogh in Shimla (rural) assembly segment had the highest number of voters (1,510), the EC had allowed opening an auxiliary booth to facilitate the electors.
He added that the polling booth at Kaa in Kinnaur had only 17 registered voters, the lowest in the state.
Chauhan said conducting the electoral process in the state was not an easy task. “To reach the 478 voters at the Kashapath polling booth in the Rampur assembly segment, the polling party has to walk 24 km, while for the 73-voter Kuthed polling booth in the Fatehpur assembly segment, staff has to travel by boat.
He added that the draft voter list drawn up in January listed nearly 47 lakh voters, but more than 70,000 people were added in the final roll. In Kangra, 24,737 voters were added, 9,919 in Mandi, 22,865 in Hamirpur and 8,335 voterss were added in the Shimla parliamentary constituency.
“People can go vote from 7am to 6pm,” said Chauhan.
Weather to play important role in Bada Bhangal
Chauhan said a polling party and material would be airlifted to the Bada Bhangal polling station. “This will be possible only if the weather remains clear, otherwise election will be held in this booth before May 16,” he added.
Total voters 12.6 lakh
Total candidates 12
Cong Chander Kumar
BJP Shanta Kumar
AAP Rajan Sushant
Total voters 11, 50, 408
Total candidates 9
Cong Pratibha Singh
BJP Ramswaroop Sharma
Total voters 12, 47,699
Total candidates 10
Cong Rajinder Rana
BJP Anurag Thakur
AAP Kamal Kanta Batra
Total voters 11, 53, 363
Total candidates 7
Cong Mohan Lal Brakta
BJP Virender Kashyap
Para-military 45 companies/4,500 personnel
HP police 12,000
HP home guard 6,000
Haryana home guard 1,400