Assembly segments would be held in a single phase.
As the states goes to polling, the ruling BJP is hoping for an encore on the back of its development agenda, while the opposition Congress is urging voters to go by the four-decade old tradition of voting out incumbents. More than 55 lakh voters in the hill state will decide the fate of 412 candidates, including Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, former CM Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh and former BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti. Aam Adami Party (AAP) too hopes to create a mark in the state and is contesting on all 68 seats.
Besides these three parties, parties like Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Rashtriya Devbhumi Party (RDP) are in the fray. BJP brought star campaigners like Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party chief Jagat Prakash Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for the polls. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also campaigned in the hill state.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too hit the ground along with other top leaders of the party including Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. Today’s polls also carry much significance for JP Nadda since Himachal Pradesh is his native state.
Voting is all set to take place on all the 68 Assembly seats of the state, the majority of which (44) had come in the BJP’s bag in the 2017 Assembly polls, with Congress being restricted to just 21 seats.
Residents Carry Your Voter Card at Polling Booth
The voters need to carry their Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) and show it at the polling booth. They may also carry one ID besides their photo voter slips. According to the Election Commission, a total of 55,92,828 electors of which 27,37,845 are women, 28,54,945 men and 38 were third-gender, will decide the fate of the candidates.
This time, the representation of woman candidates is 24. The state, which has seen the power alternate between the BJP and Congress over the past several elections, will go to the polls on Saturday. While the BJP has expressed confidence in returning to power on the basis of the performance of state and central governments and its vision for the state, the Congress is hoping that some of its electoral promises will be a major draw among the electorate.
Security Arrangements for Polling
About 50,000 government employees are on poll duty. Of the 7881 polling stations, 981 are critical and 901 have been categorised as vulnerable. Chask Bhatori of Bharmour Tribal AC of Chamba district is one such polling station where the polling party has to walk 14 km to reach. As many as 55,92,828 electors are eligible to vote in the polls, which includes 67,559 service electors and 22 NRIs.
Of the total eligible electors, 27,37,845 are female, 28,54,945 are male and 38 belong to the third gender. As many as 1.93 lakh voters are between 18-19 years of age. Teams from the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF), comprising of 800 personnel, have also been put on standby.
A state disaster management plan has been prepared, along with plans for district disaster management, as per the instruction of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO). The State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) has deployed teams from the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF), comprising 50 personnel each, in the tribal-dominated Lahaul & Spiti and Chamba districts for quick response in the event of any untoward incidents or natural calamities.
Ten personnel each of the NDRF and SDRF have been deployed at the district headquarters of Chamba and Pangi. Besides, 10 NDRF personnel each have also been posted at the district headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti, Kaza and Udaipur. The poll panel has also set up a total of 7,881 polling stations for the assembly elections. Kangra district has a maximum of 1,625 polling stations while the Lahaul-Spiti district has the least at 92.
Punjab Announces Holiday for Voters of Himachal Pradesh
The Punjab government announced on Friday a special holiday for employees who are voters of Himachal Pradesh due to the polling for the assembly election in the hill state.
If any of the government officials or employees who are working in Punjab government offices, boards, corporations and educational institutions, and is a voter in Himachal Pradesh, the person can avail special holiday on Saturday by presenting a voter card to the authority, according to an official spokesperson. This leave will not be deducted from their leave account. A paid holiday has been declared for all the persons who are voters in Himachal Pradesh and working in any business, trade, industrial undertaking or any other establishment in Punjab, the spokesperson said.
The decision has been taken under sub section-1 of Section 135-B of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
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