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Himachal polls-2017: Hot seat Arki witnesses 74% turnout

Constituency to decide fate of CM Virbhadra Singh who is contesting from here for the first time

assembly elections Updated: Nov 10, 2017 13:01 IST
Rajesh Moudgil
Rajesh Moudgil
Hindustan Times, Arki
Himachal polls,HP polls 2017,Himachal Pradesh Assembly election 2017
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh with her wife Pratibha Singh and son and Congress candidate from Shimla rural Vikramaditya Singh after casting their vote at Rampur in Shimla district on Thursday. (HT Photo)

Set in the interiors of Solan district of Himachal, the Arki Vidhan Sabha constituency, which has maximum number of voters in the district, registered over 74% turnout. In the 2012 elections, the constituency witnessed 73% voting.

One of the key seats of the state where chief minister Virbhadra Singh faces BJP first-timer Rattan Pal Singh, Arki woke up to a rather dull voting as it was about 10% by 10 am. But it picked up as the day progressed. By 1pm, the constituency recorded 40% voting and it rose to 74% by 6pm. Voting went on till 6pm at five polling stations, including Bhararighat, where villagers turned up to cast their votes after daily chores.

Queues were swelling up with time at most of the 130 polling stations spread in Arki town and 57 panchayats in the Arki tehsil.

The constituency has 83,600 voters, including 41,655 women. While thin queues were seen at Batal, Manjoo, Chandi and Dharla village, Arki town saw constant voting.

Virbhadra is contesting from Arki for the first time as he vacated the Shimla Rural seat, from where he was elected in 2012 polls, for his son Vikramaditya Singh.

The BJP too sprung a surprise by denying ticket to the two-time sitting MLA Govind Ram Sharma and picking Rattan Pal Singh, 45, who is an active Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker. He was chosen by the party after his role as a strategist in the recent Shimla municipal corporation polls, which the BJP won after 30 years.

Traditionally a Congress citadel, the BJP won the seat in the 2007 and 2012 polls. Shekhar Kumar, a schoolteacher, said the seat historically belonged to the Congress as late Dharam Pal Thakur won elections from here thrice in a row. The BJP won the seat in 2007 after the Congress denied ticket to Thakur, he said.

The constituency had witnessed aggressive campaigning with BJP stalwarts Union home minister Rajnath Singh, Union health minister JP Nadda and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath holding rallies for the party candidate.

First Published: Nov 10, 2017 13:00 IST