Shimla : Nearly 69 percent of the over 53 lakh voters in Himachal Pradesh turned out on Sunday to elect Members of Parliament for the state’s four Lok Sabha seats in the last phase of the general election.The turnout this time crossed the 2014 Lok Sabha mark of 64.42 pecent polling.
Women turned out in strength in the rural areas of all four parliamentary constituencies – Shimla (reserved), Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra, said poll officials.
There were minor hiccups as the Electronic Voting Machines developed snags at some places. Three people involved in the election process lost their lives.
Shyam Saran Negi, a 102-year-old voter who also participated in the 1951-52 general election which was the country’s first, cast his ballot at a picturesque hamlet in Kinnaur district.
“I have never missed an opportunity to vote,” Negi told reporters in Kalpa, some 275 kms from the state capital.A staunch believer in democracy, the centenarian never fails to cast his vote in any election, be it Lok Sabha, Assembly or panchayat polls So was Devi Das, 107, who casts his vote in gram panchayat Balhseena in Jhandutta area of Bilaspur district and Panjaki Devi, 98, in Sarkaghat in Mandi district.
Some 999 centenarians have been identified by the Election Commission in the state.
Donning traditional dresses, voters in strength exercised their franchise at Tashigang, one of the country’s highest polling stations located in Spiti at an altitude of 15,256 feet, close to the China border.The lone polling station has 49 voters. Interestingly, a turnout of 132 per cent was recorded there as poll officials too cast their votes, an electoral officer.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and two-time former Chief Ministers Prem Kumar Dhum Shanta Kumar and former Union Minister and Congress leader Anand Sharma were among the prominent voters. From Kangra, the largest Lok Sabha constituency in the state in terms of voters, the BJP has fielded Cabinet Minister Kishan Kapoor, 68, after dropping veteran leader Shanta Kumar, against two-time Congress legislator Pawan Kajal, 44. n Hamirpur, Dhumal is trying to ensure a fourth term for his son Anurag Thakur, former chief of the state and national cricket bodies. Pitted against Thakur, 44, is ex-wrestler and five-time Congress legislator Ram Lal Thakur.