55 percent polling in Himachal (Third Lead)

May 13th, 2009 - 8:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Shimla, May 13 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh saw over 55 percent voting for its four Lok Sabha seats that went to polls Wednesday.
“The voter turnout could be slightly higher than 55 percent as people who had queued up at polling stations at 5 p.m. would be allowed to cast their votes,” the state’s chief electoral officer Anil Khachi told IANS.

“The maximum turnout was in Mandi, followed by Hamirpur, Kangra and Shimla,” he added.

The high-profile Mandi seat has seen a fight between five-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh (Congress) of the former royal family of Bushehr state and Maheshwar Singh (Bharatiya Janata Party - BJP) of the erstwhile ruling family of Kullu.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Virbhadra Singh, his wife and sitting MP Pratibha Singh, and Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma were among the early voters.

Thirty-one candidates, including nine independents, are in the fray for the four seats. The main contest is between the Congress and the BJP.

The Congress fielded sitting MPs Dhani Ram Shandil and Chander Kumar in Shimla and Kangra respectively against the BJP’s Virender Kashyap and Rajan Sushant.

From Hamirpur, the Congress has fielded BJP rebel Narinder Thakur against the BJP’s sitting MP Anurag Thakur, the son of Chief Minister Dhumal.

For the first time, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has fielded a candidate for the Mandi seat - Onkar Shad, a technocrat, who is expected to dent the Congress’ winning margin.

While the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded candidates for all the four seats, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has fielded one candidate from Kangra.

The Election Commission set up 7,253 polling stations in the state to enable 4,604,832 voters to exercise their franchise through around 11,000 electronic voting machines (EVMs).

The highest polling station in this hill state was set up at an elevation of over 15,000 feet at Hikkam in Lahaul and Spiti district. It has 321 electors.

The Kaa polling station in Kinnaur district has only 19 voters - the lowest in the state.

Kunnu-Charang in Kinnaur’s Pooh subdivision is the remotest polling station in the state where voters have to trudge some 10 to 20 kilometres to vote. The polling booth has only 169 voters.

The state has 708 hypersensitive polling stations and 1,259 sensitive ones. Over 15,000 police, paramilitary and home guards personnel were deployed.

Kinnaur district, adjoining China, has the highest number of 36 hypersensitive polling stations.

The Congress had won three seats in the 2004 general elections while the BJP had one seat.

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