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Polling slow in Himachal Pradesh

IANS
May 13, 2009 at 10:51am IST

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Shimla: All the four Lok Sabha seats of Himachal Pradesh went to the polls amid tight security Wednesday in the fifth and final phase of General Elections.

Electors across the state could be seen reaching polling stations even before voting started at 0700 hrs IST.

About nine per cent of the voters has cast their ballot till 0900 hrs IST.

HAND VS LOTUS: The main contest is between the Congress and BJP in all the four seat.

"There has been no report of any delay in starting the poll process," state Chief Electoral Officer Anil Khachi told IANS.

Thirty-one candidates, including nine independents, are in the fray for the four seats - Shimla (reserved for Scheduled Castes), Kangra, Mandi and Hamirpur.

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

Congress leader and five-time Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh is pitted against the BJP's three-time MP Maheshwar Singh from Mandi.

Two sitting Congress MPs, Dhani Ram Shandil and Chander Kumar, have been fielded by the party in Shimla and Kangra respectively against the BJP's Virender Kashyap and Rajan Sushant.

From Hamirpur, the Congress has fielded BJP rebel Narinder Thakur against the BJP's sitting MP Anurag Thakur, the son of Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

For the first time, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has fielded a candidate from the Mandi seat - Onkar Shad, a technocrat, who is expected to dent the Congress' winning margin.

While the Bhaujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded candidates for all the four seats, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has fielded one candidate from Kangra only.

The Election Commission has set up 7,253 polling stations in the state to enable 4,604,832 voters to exercise their franchise through 11,000 electronic voting machines (EVMs).

The highest polling station in the state has been set up at an elevation of over 15,000 feet at Hikkam in Lahaul and Spiti district. It has 321 electors.

The Kaa polling station in Kinnaur district has only 19 voters - the lowest in the state.

Kunnu-Charang in Kinnaur's Pooh subdivision is the remotest polling stations in the state where voters have to trudge some 10 to 20 km to vote. The polling booth has just 169 voters.

The state has 708 hypersensitive polling stations and 1,259 sensitive. Over 15,000 police, paramilitary and home guards personnel have been deployed.

Kinnaur district, adjoining China, has the highest number of 36 hypersensitive polling stations.

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