Voters Update

Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections: Over 75 per cent voter turnout


Himachal Pradesh recorded over 75 per cent voter turnout on Sunday after a sluggish start to polling in the 68 state assembly constituencies. This time the percentage of votes broke all previous records. Highest percentage of votes were polled in 2002, which was 73 per cent. The percentage of votes remained 71 per cent in 1993 and 1998 Vidhan Sabha elections. The poll percentage in the last election (2007) was 71.61 per cent.

"The voter turnout was just nine per cent in the first hour but by 12 noon, it rose to 30 per cent and 75 per cent by 5 pm. Great enthusiasm was noticed in the remote and tribal areas of the state. The polling percentage was high, it was approximately 81.48 per cent in Sirmour district. The highest percentage of polling, 94.80 per cent was reported from Nalagarh assembly constituency. The lowest polling percentage of 58.77 per cent was reported from Shimla urban assembly constituency," state's chief electoral officer Narinder Chauhan said.

The maximum turnout was in Sirmour (81.48) followed by Solan (80.34), Kullu (78.74), Mandi (76.95), Chamba (75.25), Una (75.06), Kinnaur (74.28) , Bilaspur (73), Kangra (72.68), Hamirpur (70.33) and Shimla (69.85).

Long queues of voters which included a large number of women were seen at the polling booths in the lower areas. Polling was peaceful and no major untoward incident was reported, except a minor clashes between BJP and Congress workers at Una and Chamba towns.

Congress's chief ministerial candidate and five-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh who is contesting election from Shimla (rural) constituency cast vote at his native place in Rampur town, around 120 km from Shimla. Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who this time is contesting election from Hamirpur constituency, exercised his franchise in Samirpur, now part of Bhoranj constituency.

Union Commerce and Industries Minister Anand Sharma cast his vote at Kelston polling booth in Shimla and left for New Delhi soon after exercising his right to franchise.

Shyam Saran, 95, from Kalpa in Kinnaur district, the oldest voter in the state also cast his vote. Saran was among the first to vote after the country's Independence in the 1951 general elections.

Many voters complained that delimitation of constituencies had become a hurdle for them in exercising their franchise.

"Higher percentage of votes is attributed to two major factors. One the third force (other than BJP and Congress) which usually mobilises people to cast votes and secondly the opposition or the anti-incumbency factors when votes are cast against the ruling party. The ruling party is always a loser," P C Lohumi, a Shimla-based senior journalist said.

Another reason being cited for the higher percentage of voter turnout is weather which remained sunny and peaceful throughout the day. Polling had begun on a dull note apparently due to cold weather conditions as people prefer warm weather to come out of their homes. The voting picked up in the second half of the day. The minimum temperature was hovering around freezing point in tribal areas, including Hikkim where country's highest polling station has been set up.

In 2007, the BJP won 41 seats, the Congress 23, the BSP one and Independents three. A record number of 459 candidates, including 27 women, are in the fray. The Election Commission had set up 7,253 polling stations for 46,08,359 electors, including 23,76,587 men.

So far as voters' constitution goes, a significant 50.01 per cent is upper caste vote in Himachal, followed by 25.59 per cent SC, 17.08 per cent OBCs, 4.32 per cent ST and 3 per cent minority votes. Traditionally, SCs go with the Congress.

The presence of a third force in HLP and also of BSP, NCP and TMC contestants will also determine results and so will independents who had bagged 8 per cent of the vote share in 2007 elections when the BJP took 43.78 per cent and the Congress 38.90 per cent. The BSP had in the last elections managed a meagre 7.26 per cent vote share followed by CPM's 0.57 per cent and CPI's 0.19 per cent. The Left Parties, which are part of HLP this time, are hoping to improve their tally riding on the wave of Shimla Municipal election win.

In 12 segments out of 68, rebels and 105 Independents will make a huge difference. That's a critical factor considering in 2007 elections, the victory margin in 22 seats was less than 2500 votes and in another 40 segments it was less than 5000 votes. While the incumbent BJP may lose its previous percentage of votes, Congress which in many segments during 2007 elections was neck by neck, may up its percentage of votes.

The votes will be counted on December 20.

 

Vote for India campaign is a registered tradmark of Mass for Awareness organization. that is registered under Societies Registration Act. 1860.

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