Himachal Pradesh votes today in high-stakes contest
The voting is scheduled from 8 am to 5 pm across 7,884 polling stations, including 7,235 in rural areas and 646 in urban pockets of the state.
Over 5.5 million voters will decide the fate of 412 candidates in the fray for 68 assembly constituencies in Himachal Pradesh, where polling will be held in a single phase on Saturday.
The voting is scheduled from 8 am to 5 pm across 7,884 polling stations, including 7,235 in rural areas and 646 in urban pockets of the state. Three auxiliary polling stations have also been set up in far flung areas by the Election Commission. Counting of votes will be held on December 8.
Of the total 5,592,828 registered voters in the state — which saw a turnout of 75.57% in the 2017 assembly elections — 2,854,945 electors are male while 2,737,845 are female. A total of 121,409 voters are above the age of 80, including 1,136 centenarians. Among those eligible to exercise their franchise on Saturday also include 67,559 service personnel and 22 NRIs.
Though all arrangements have been completed by the Election Commission for the smooth conduct of the polls, fresh snowfall in the higher reaches of the hill state has added to the woes of both the electorate as well as polling officials, people familiar with the matter said.
A total of 140 polling stations in the tribal Lahaul and Spiti district besides Kinnaur and Chamba are snowbound, said an official, requesting anonymity.
“I have been deputed for election duty at Purthi in Chamba district’s Pangi valley, which is 28 km from the headquarters in Killar. Snowfall has made conditions difficult for us,” said Man Singh, an employee of the electricity board on election duty. “We travelled in a vehicle and then trekked our way to reach our destination.”
The higher reaches of the state experienced fresh snowfall on Friday, adding to the travel woes of polling officials. To reach Chask Bhatori in Chamba, situated at an altitude of 4,500 metres above sea level, officials had to walk for 14 km to reach the polling station, where only 26 people are eligible to cast their votes, said the official.
“Despite the snowfall in higher altitude regions, all arrangements have been put in place,” said DC Rana, deputy commissioner, Chamba.
Of the total 412 candidates in the fray, only 24 are women. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have fielded candidates in all 68 seats, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is contesting 67 seats and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 53. A total of 99 independent candidates are also in the poll fray.
In the previous state polls in 2017, the BJP won 44 seats, Congress 21, two were independents while one seat was won by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which is contesting 11 seats this time around.