30 percent polling in Himachal by afternoon

Shimla, June 27 (IANS) Polling for the second and last phase of the Mandi Lok Sabha constituency was underway Thursday in Himachal Pradesh's rain-hit Kinnaur district, with nearly 30 percent voter turnout by 1 p.m.

"The turnout was just 11 percent in the first three hours but by 1 it rose to nearly 30 percent," state Chief Electoral Officer Narender Chauhan told IANS. The voting will continue till 5 p.m.

He said 52,345 electors, including 25,285 women, were eligible to vote in 118 polling booths.

The main contestants are Congress' Pratibha Singh, wife of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, and BJP legislator and former cabinet minister Jai Ram Thakur.

The election commission had postponed voting in the landslide-hit Kinnaur district as it was cut off from the rest of state owing to torrential rains June 16-18.

Polling in the remaining 16 constituencies of the Mandi seat was held June 23 and it recorded nearly 52 percent voter turnout.

The counting of votes will be held simultaneously June 30.

The byelection was necessitated after Virbhadra Singh relinquished the seat following his election to the assembly in December 2012.

The Mandi constituency, which includes Kullu, Mandi and some areas of Chamba and Shimla districts, besides the tribal-dominated Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti, is one of the biggest in the country.


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