Shimla, June 23 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh's Mandi parliamentary constituency recorded nearly 17 percent voter-turnout in the first three hours after a sluggish start to polling around 8 a.m. in a by-election Sunday.
"The voter-turnout was just seven percent in the first one hour but by 11 a.m. it rose to nearly 17 percent," an electoral officer told IANS here.
Voting began at 8 a.m. and there was no report of any delay in polling due to malfunctioning electronic voting machines (EVMs), he said. The polling will end at 5 p.m.
A total of 11,24,786 voters will decide the fate of four candidates, including two independents. The main contest is between the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
However, voting in the landslide-hit Kinnaur district, part of the constituency, will be held June 27. The vote count will be held simultaneously June 30.
The Congress has pitted Pratibha Singh, former MP and wife of six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, against BJP's former minister and sitting legislator Jai Ram Thakur.
The by-poll was necessitated after Virbhadra Singh relinquished the seat following his election to the state assembly in December 2012.
The chief minister and his family cast their vote in Rampur, some 120 km from the state capital, in the morning.
The Mandi constituency, which includes Kullu, Mandi and some areas of Chamba and Shimla districts, besides the tribal-dominated assembly constituencies of Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti, is one of the biggest in the country.