Voting ended for the 68 assembly constituencies in Himachal Pradesh with traditional rivals Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and incumbent Congress in the fray. While the BJP has named Prem Kumar Dhumal as its chief ministerial candidate, the Congress will be banking on Virbhadra Singh to retain power in the state.
Polling for Himachal elections started at 8am and with voter turnout recorded at almost 65% till 4pm. In the current Himachal Pradesh assembly, the Congress and the BJP have 35 and 28 MLAs, respectively, in the 68-member house. Apart from them, there are four independents, while one seat is vacant. The Congress and the BJP have been returning to power alternately since 1985.
Here are the latest updates from Himachal Pradesh elections:
■ 64.8% voter turnout recorded till 4pm, DD News reports. News18 reports 67% voting in Chamba district till 4pm.
■ 54.9 % voters have cast their vote till 2pm in Himachal Pradesh State assembly elections today, All India Radio reports.
■ Moderate to heavy polling was recorded in Himachal Pradesh today with 35% voters exercising their franchise till 1pm. The polling was peaceful but there were reports of malfunctioning of EVMs and VVAPTs from several places and polling could not be held in Gondla polling booth in tribal Lahaul and Spiti district. The EVM was replaced but after three votes it again developed some snag. The EVM was being repaired and polling would commence soon, election officials said.
Shyam Sharan Negi (101), the first voter of India, cast his vote for the 15th time in assembly polls at Kalpa in Kinnaur district.
Shimla district recorded the highest polling of 36%. The largest Kangra district recorded 22% voting while Kinnaur recorded 35% polling. Hamirpur, Bilaspur, Mandi, Una, Solan and Sirmaur districts recorded 26%, 29%, 32%, 35% and 30% polling till noon while Theog constituency in Shimla recorded highest 42% polling. (PTI)
■ Himachal Pradesh records 28.02% polling till 12 noon, All India Radio reports.
■ Union Minister JP Nadda casts his vote at a polling booth in Bilaspur.
■ Himachal Pradesh records 13.72% polling till 10am, DD News reports. Earlier, the polling started across the state at 8.am and at several places in Chamba and tribal areas 5-10% polling was recorded. Shimla district recorded 18% polling, Hamirpur 17%, Chamba 12%, Kangra 14%, Mandi 16%, Una, Hamirpur and Bilaspur 15 to 20% and Solan and Sirmaur 18 to 20%, PTI reported.
Kusumpti constituency in Shimla recorded 22% polling, Shimla(rural) 20%, Theog 19%, Rampur 18% and Shimla (Urban) and Rohroo 16%, Election Department.
■ BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal and BJP MP from Hamirpur Anurag Thakur cast their votes in Hamirpur while CM Virbhadra Singh and his son Vikramaditya cast their votes at a polling booth in Shimla.
■ Virbhadra Singh expresses confidence “of getting majority in the election, the next Government too will be of Congress,” ANI quoted the incumbent chief minister as saying.
Prem Kumar Dhumal, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate: “We aimed to get 50 plus seats but now that we are receiving so much support from all sections of the society, we expect it to cross 60. (ANI)
■ “Time has come, people have made up their mind to get rid of Congress who has looted Himachal Pradesh. The state needs a senior leader like Dhumal ji to look at the affairs of Himachal which is under the debt of more than Rs 50,000 crore,” Anurag Thakur, BJP MP from Hamirpur. (ANI)
■ Virbhadra Singh has decided to change constituencies from Shimla (Rural) to Arki to make way for his son, Vikramaditya Singh, to contest from his seat. BJP’s Dhumal has also changed his constituency to Sujanpur.
■ ANI reports that voting at polling station number 55 in Kinnaur, Reckong Peo has not yet started due to a technical glitch. The polling booth is all women-managed, it adds.
■ Voters queue up to cast their votes at a polling booth in Dharamshala, reports ANI.