Himachal by-poll sees over 63% turnout

Shimla, April 9

Ahead of the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh slated for this year-end, the bypoll for the assembly seat of Bhoranj on Sunday saw over 63 percent voting, officials said.

Long queues of electors were seen across the constituency in Hamirpur district during the day. The voters started reaching the polling stations even before voting opened at 8 a.m.

“The election in the Bhoranj assembly constituency concluded peacefully. The poll percentage was 63.33 percent,” electoral officer Madan Chauhan told IANS over phone.

He said the highest polling in a booth was 82.1 percent, while the lowest was 53 percent. A total of 46,848 voters out of 73,485 cast their votes.

Regarding the success of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), Chauhan said initially there were technical snags at a few places but the machines were subsequently replaced. “Overall, the use of VVPAT was very successful at all 99 polling booths.”

The VVPAT technique has been used in the state for the first time.

Leader of Opposition and two-time BJP Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and his wife were among those who exercised their franchise.

Five candidates, including three Independents, are in the fray.

The main contest is between the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Bhoranj constituency has been a BJP stronghold for three decades.

The by-poll has been necessitated following the death of two-time former cabinet minister I.D. Dhiman, who had won six consecutive elections from this constituency.

His son Anil Dhiman, a physician by profession, is in the fray from the BJP. He is pitted against Promila Devi of the Congress.

Voting began on a slow note in the first few hours but picked up gradually as the day progressed. By 1 p.m. it rose to 47 percent and 57.76 percent by 3 p.m.

Women turned out in strength in the rural areas of the constituency.

The Election Commission had set up 99 polling stations to enable 73,485 voters, including 37,843 women, to exercise their franchise.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has aggressively campaigned in the constituency and highlighted his government’s achievements.

Likewise, Dhumal of the BJP and his party’s leaders have also held a number of election rallies.

“This by-poll is going to be a trend-setter ahead of the assembly elections. We are going to retain the seat,” Dhumal told reporters.

A confident Virbhadra Singh said: “This time we are going to wrest the seat from the BJP.”



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