LS Polls: Himachal records 14.35 pc polling in first two hours

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Shimla: A voter turnout of 14.35 per cent was recorded till 9 am on Saturday in the four Lok Sabha constituencies of Himachal Pradesh where polling is underway in the last phase of the general election, officials said.

They said the Kangra parliamentary seat recorded a turnout of 13.72 per cent, Mandi 13.81 per cent, Hamirpur 14.67 per cent and the Shimla (SC) seat 15.26 per cent.

Of the six assembly constituencies where bypolls are being held simultaneously, Dharamshala recorded a turnout of 12.98 per cent, Lahaul and Spiti 11.95 per cent, Sujanpur 12.59 per cent, Barsar 11 per cent, Gagret 13.18 per cent and Kutlehar 14.05 per cent.

These assembly seats fell vacant after the disqualification of six Congress legislators from the Vidhan Sabha for defying a party whip to vote in favour of the government during the budget.

Later these MLAs joined the BJP and were fielded from their respective assembly constituencies.

Voting began at 7 am and will end at 6 pm. As many as 62 candidates — 37 in four Lok Sabha seats and 25 for the assembly by-elections — are in the fray.

Prominent leaders in the fray include Anurag Thakur (BJP), Anand Sharma (Congress), Bollywood actor Kangna Ranaut (BJP), Vikramaditya Singh (Congress) and sitting BJP MP from Shimla Suresh Kashyap.

BJP national president Jagat Prakash Nadda was the first to vote at the Vijaypur Anganwadi centre in his home district Bilaspur. He was accompanied by his wife Mallika Nadda. Later, the BJP leader met with people and had tea at a shop owned by an old friend.

Union minister and BJP candidate from Hamirpur Anurag Thakur, accompanied by his father and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and other family members, cast his vote at the Samirpur polling booth in Hamirpur district.

The Congress candidate from Hamirpur Satpal Raizada also exercised his franchise.

BJP state president Rajiv Bindal, Leader of the Opposition Jai Ram Thakur, BJP candidate from the Kangra Lok Sabha seat Rajiv Bhardwaj, BJP candidate from the Shimla seat Suresh Kashyap, former BJP minister and scion of the erstwhile Kullu estate Maheshwar Singh were also among those who exercised their franchise in the first two hours of polling.

BJP candidate from the tribal Lahaul and Spiti assembly segment Ravi Thakur, Independent candidate Ram Lal Markanda, who is a former minister, and Congress candidate Anuradha were among those to cast their votes in the first hour of polling.

People come out early in low areas of Una and Hamirpur districts where the temperatures soar as the day progresses.

Adequate deployment of security forces has been made at 7,992 polling booths and two auxiliary polling stations, while 369 polling booths have been identified as critical, according to officials.

As many as 57,11,969 voters, including 438 people above the age of 100 years, are eligible to vote.

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