Record 75 per cent voting in Himachal Pradesh

Last Updated: Sun, Nov 04, 2012 15:54 hrs

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh on Sunday registered a record high polling of around 75 per cent in elections for 68 assembly constituencies, Election Commission officials said.

The state's Chief Electoral Officer, Narinder Chauhan, told IANS in Shimla: "The voter turnout was approximately 75 percent."

In New Delhi, Deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla told reporters that the final figure for turnout was likely to go up as voting in about 200 booths continued even after 5 p.m.

"It is quite possible (that a) record is set. It is already higher (than the figure of 2007 polls)," Shukla said.

He said the polling had been "absolutely peaceful and completely incident-free".

There were reports of a minor clash between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress workers at a polling station in Chamba town, election officials said.

In 2007 assembly polls, the poll percentage was 71.61 percent, in 2003 it was 74.51 per cent, in 1998 it was 71.23 per cent, in 1993 it was 71.50 percent and in 1990 it was 67.76 per cent.

The voter turnout in the state was just nine percent in the first hour but by noon, it rose to 30 per cent and 60 percent by 3 p.m., said Chauhan.

The maximum turnout was in Sirmaur district (81.48 per cent), followed by Solan district (80.34 percent), Kullu district (78.74 per cent), Mandi (76.95 per cent) and Chamba (75.25 per cent).

The state's largest district Kangra, with the maximum number of 15 seats, saw 72.25 percent polling.

"The highest percentage of polling among the constituencies was 94.80 per cent in Nalagarh in Solan district, while the lowest polling percentage of 58.77 per cent was in Shimla (urban)," Chauhan said.

The remote districts of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti, where the minimum temperatures have already dipped below the freezing point, saw 74.20 percent and 68 percent turnout, respectively.

India's highest polling booth in Lahaul-Spiti district recorded 80 percent turnout. At the Hikkim polling station, located at an altitude of 14,567 feet, 267 voters out of the 333 on the rolls cast votes.

The Ka polling station in Kinnaur district, which has the lowest number of 18 electors in the state, saw 100 percent turnout.

A record number of 459 candidates, including 36 women, were in the fray.

The Election Commission set up 7,253 polling stations for 4,608,359 electors, including 2,376,587 men.

The main contest was between the Congress and the ruling BJP.

Congress leader and five-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh cast his vote at his native place in Rampur town, around 120 km from Shimla, while Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal exercised his franchise in Samirpur, now part of Bhoranj constituency.

Virbhadra Singh is contesting the elections from Shimla (rural) and Dhumal from Hamirpur constituency.

Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma also cast his vote in the state capital.

"We will form the government. This is my belief," Sharma told reporters after casting his ballot.

Taking a jibe at the BJP over its promise of giving induction stoves to every household if the party returned to power, Sharma said: "Who will pay for buying utensils required for induction stove? Will the BJP pay this? It is just misguiding the voters."

Poll officials said Shyam Saran, 95, from Kalpa in Kinnaur district, one of the oldest voters in the state also cast his vote.

Saran was among the first to vote after the country's independence in the 1951 general elections.

The election result would be out Dec 20.

In 2007, the BJP won 41 seats, the Congress 23, the BSP one and Independents three. The lone BSP legislator later joined the BJP.

More from Sify: