Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls | 73.6% record polling as voters brave cold, trudge through snow

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People across Himachal Pradesh voted braving cold and in the higher reaches of mountains trudging through snow to elect a new State Government

People across Himachal Pradesh voted braving cold and in the higher reaches of mountains trudging through snow to elect a new State Government

Polling concluded peacefully for the Assembly election in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday, with the hill State recording a voter turnout of nearly 73.64%, as per provisional data at 11.30 p.m. The State had recorded polling of 75.57% in the 2017 election.

From capital Shimla to the icy heights of Spiti, people across the State voted braving cold and in the higher reaches of mountains trudging through snow to elect a new State Government.

Voting began at 8 a.m. on a slow note but picked up as the day progressed and the sun warmed the winter chill.

Read : Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls | Close fight between BJP, Congress

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Maneesh Garg said the polling process was peaceful in all the 68 Assembly constituencies. “Even in the snowbound areas, people came out in large numbers with full zeal and enthusiasm. There were around 130 polling booths in tribal areas of Lahaul-Spiti, Chamba and few in Kinnaur Assembly constituency which were affected by snow,” he said.

The highest turnout of 85.2% was reported from Doon constituency and the lowest of 62.53% from Shimla.

In an early morning message to voters, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged them to enthusiastically participate in the “festival of democracy” and register a voting record. In a tweet, Mr. Modi also greeted young voters who will be exercising their franchise for the first time.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur echoed Mr. Modi and said every vote will help build a prosperous Himachal Pradesh.

Mr. Thakur also addressed the Prime Minister in a separate tweet and said there was a lot of enthusiasm among voters.

An elderly voter shows her voter ID card before casting her vote for Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, at a polling station in Kullu, November 12, 2022

An elderly voter shows her voter ID card before casting her vote for Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, at a polling station in Kullu, November 12, 2022
| Photo Credit: PTI

“Certainly, according to your call, voters in the State will create a new record by participating in the polling and are going to create a new riwaaz [trend]. Warm greetings to you,” said Mr. Thakur, who voted in Mandi with his wife and daughters.

“We are confident of the BJP’s grand victory. We are getting good feedback,” he told reporters.

Enthusing voters to back the Congress, former party president Rahul Gandhi also asked them to turn out in large numbers and make their contribution to the progress and prosperous future of the State. “Himachal will vote for OPS (old pension scheme), Himachal will vote for employment, Himachal will vote for Har Ghar Lakshmi,” he said.

If the ruling BJP is hoping for an encore on the back of its development agenda, the Opposition Congress — desperate to wrest the State back from the BJP after multiple electoral losses and losing nine States in two years — is appealing to voters to go by the four-decade tradition of voting out incumbents in the State.

BJP National President J.P. Nadda and his family members show their fingers marked with indelible ink after casting their votes for Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, in Bilaspur district on November 12, 2022.

BJP National President J.P. Nadda and his family members show their fingers marked with indelible ink after casting their votes for Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, in Bilaspur district on November 12, 2022.
| Photo Credit: PTI

The grand old party has made a host of promises, including ₹1,500 to all women every month under the Har Ghar Lakshmi scheme, 300 units of free power and five lakh jobs in the next five years. It has also promised a ₹680-crore StartUp fund.

The BJP has promised implementation of the Uniform Civil Code and eight lakh jobs in the State, besides two-wheelers to college-going girls and cycles to schoolgirls belonging to weaker sections.

Overall, 7,884 polling stations were set up in the State for the 55.25 lakh voters. A total of 412 candidates are in the fray, of which 24 are women.

For real-time monitoring of the entire polling process, 3,960 polling stations were covered through live webcasting with continuous monitoring at the State, district and Assembly constituency-level control rooms. “A total of 157 women polling stations, 37 PwD [persons with disabilities] polling stations and 136 model polling stations were also set up. Besides, arrangements of crèche for small children were also made in many districts like Hamirpur, Una, Chamba and Kinnaur,” Mr. Garg said.

Read | ‘In Himachal Pradesh, the fight is between the BJP’s money power and the power of the people, which is with the Congress’

The Election Commission had appointed 29 general observers, 23 expenditure observers, and three police observers, besides, one special general observer, one special police observer and one special accessibility observers to ensure a fair and transparent election process.

Mr. Garg said due to the effective enforcement of the model code of conduct by all enforcement agencies, seizures of nearly ₹60 crore were made since the announcement of the poll on October 14 as compared to about ₹10 crore in the 2017 election. “A total of 1,013 complaints were received over C-vigil out of which corrective action was taken in respect of 861 complaints,” he said.

(With PTI inputs)

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