Himachal Pradesh assembly elections: About 30,000 security personnel deployed to ensure fair polls
Multiple rescue teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) comprising 800 personnel have also been deployed in Himachal Pradesh for the assembly elections.
For today's vital Himachal Pradesh assembly elections that has commenced now, nearly 30,000 security personnel have been deployed in the northern hill state. These include as many as 67 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and at least 11,000 state police personnel, news agency ANI reported on Saturday.
Additionally, a total of 15 companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been deployed - all in order to ensure free and fair polls. As many as 50,000 government employees have also been put on poll duty.
Visuals shared by ANI from booths in Hamirpur, Mandi and Seraj earlier showed officials conducting mock polling process before the elections began at 8am.
Besides the security forces, multiple rescue teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) comprising 800 personnel have been deployed in the northern hill state. Ten personnel each of the NDRF and SDRF have been posted at the district headquarters of Chamba and Pangi where polling stations are snowbound. Furthermore, 10 NDRF personnel each have been deployed at the district headquarters of Kaza, Udaipur, Lahaul and Spiti Valley. The State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) has additionally deployed 50 personnel each of the NDRF and SDRF in Chamba, Lahaul and Spiti in case of any untoward incident or natural disasters.
An official said on Friday that they had to walk for 14km to reach the polling station at Chask Bhatori in Chamba - located 4,500 metres above sea level, where 26 people are eligible to vote.
On Friday, fresh snowfall was reported in the higher reaches of Himachal Pradesh.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has set up as many as 7,884 polling stations across Himachal Pradesh, with 7,235 being in rural regions and 646 in urban pockets. Furthermore, three auxiliary polling stations have been set up in far flung areas.
As many as 5,592,828 registered voters are there in the hill state, of which, 2,854,945 are male and 2,737,845 are female. Over 120,000 of them are aged above 80, including 1,136 centenarians.
A total of 412 candidates are in the fray for 68 assembly constituencies in Himachal Pradesh. Of these, only 24 are women. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is looking to retain power, and rival Congress have fielded candidates in all 68 seats. Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal is contesting 67 constituencies. Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded candidates in 53 constituencies.
There are 99 independent candidates in the poll fray.
The saffron camp's campaign in Himachal Pradesh was led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and also saw the party bringing in star campaigners such as Union home minister Amit Shah, party's national president JP Nadda and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath. The grand old party, meanwhile, saw general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel campaign, among other top leaders.
Since 1982, the BJP and Congress has ruled the state alternatively, and the saffron side is aiming to break this tradition by emerging victorious for a consecutive second term.
The counting of votes of the single-phase polls will be held on December 8.