75 pc turnout in Himachal polls

Elections in Himachal Pradesh for 68 Assembly seats ended peacefully on Sunday with a high voter turnout of about 75 per cent, up nearly 4 per cent from the last democratic exercise.

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Polling that remained sluggish till afternoon picked up towards the end. Barring a few incidents of minor altercations in areas like Chamba, voting was largely peaceful. Results will be declared on December 20 along with Gujarat.

The Nalagarh constituency recorded the highest polling of 95 per cent. Shimla urban recorded the lowest voting percentage at 58.77 per cent.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal of the BJP and former Union minister Virbhadra Singh leading the Congress exercised their franchise at their native places.

Officially, country’s first and oldest voter Shyam Saran Negi (96) exercised his franchise along with his wife in a tiny picturesque hamlet in Kinnaur district. The battle appears to be a straight contest between the ruling BJP and the Congress. No government in HP has returned to power since over two decades. But the BJP led by Dhumal is optimistic of breaking that record.

“There is no anti-incumbency factor. We are hoping to get 45 seats. We are confident that we will win the elections,” Dhumal told newspersons.

The saffron party had made inflation, rising food prices and the cap in LPG cylinders a major issue. On the other hand, the Congress is confident of trouncing the BJP. In the last Assembly elections in 2007, the BJP came to power winning 41 seats out of 68, leaving the Congress with just 23 seats.

This time the elections have thrown up interesting combinations. It’s the first time the elections are witnessing new entrants like the Trinamool Congress and the Himachal Lokhit Party (HJP) headed by a former BJP state president and former MP Maheshwar Singh respectively. The HJP in alliance with the CPI and CPM is contesting for 36 seats.

The rebel factor too will be significant. Out of 459 in poll fray, 105 are independent candidates, mostly rebels from the Congress and the BJP.

It is also the first time that elections are being held after delimitation. Both Virbhadra Singh, contesting from Shimla Rural segment and Dhumal, contesting from Hamirpur, lost their traditional seats after delimitation. There are in all 27 women candidates in the fray.

News Source: Andhra Reporter

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