Shimla/ November 4
Himachal Pradesh Sunday recorded an all-time high voter turnout at 75 percent after a sluggish start to polling in the 68 state assembly constituencies.
“The voter turnout was approximately 75 percent,” the state’s Chief Electoral Officer Narinder Chauhan said.
The voter turnout was just nine percent in the first hour but by 12 noon, it rose to 30 percent and 60 percent by 3 p.m. he said.
In 2007 assembly polls, the poll percentage was 71.61 percent, while it was 74.51 percent in 2003, 71.23 percent in 1998, 71.50 percent in 1993 and 67.76 percent in 1990.
The maximum turnout was in Sirmaur district (81.48 percent), followed by Solan district (80.34 percent), Kullu district (78.74 percent), Mandi (76.95 percent) and Chamba (75.25 percent).
State’s largest district Kangra, with the maximum number of seats of 15, saw 72.25 percent polling.
“The highest percentage of polling among the constituencies was 94.80 percent in Nalagarh in Solan district, while the lowest polling percentage of 58.77 percent 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.
Polling has been peaceful and no major untoward incident has been reported, election officials said.
Officials said there was no report of any delay in starting the poll process and the polling ended at 5 p.m.
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 of the 333 votes 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 27 women, were in the fray in the state.The Election Commission set up 7,253 polling stations for 46,08,359 electors, including 23,76,587 men.The main contest is between the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).Congress leader and five-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh cast vote at his native place in Rampur town, around 120 km from here, 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 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 stove to every household in the state 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 votes will be counted Dec 20.
In 2007, the BJP won 41 seats, the Congress 23, the BSP one and Independents three.