Polling started on a dull note for 68 Assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh today with 13.72 per cent voters exercising their franchise in the first two hours. The polling started across the state at 8.am and at several places in Chamba and tribal areas five to ten per cent polling was recorded. Shimla district recorded 18 per cent polling, Hamirpur 17 per cent, Chamba 12 per cent, Kangra 14 per cent, Mandi 16 per cent, Una, Hamirpur and Bilaspur 15 to 20 per cent and Solan and Sirmaur 18 to 20 percent. Reports of fault in VVPAT machines were received in Sirmaur district while polling stated late by 15-20 minutes in some polling booths. Kusumpti constituency in Shimla recorded 22 per cent polling, Shimla(rural) 20 per cent, Theog 19 per cent, Rampur 18 per cent and Shimla (Urban) and Rohroo 16 per cent, Election Department.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh exercised his franchise at Rampur while former chief minister P K Dhumal cast his vote at Samirpur along with family members. A total of 50,25,941 voters are eligible to cast their vote. As many as 7,525 polling booths have been set up in the state and 37,605 polling personnel have been deputed for poll duty. Besides 17,850 personnel of police and Home Guards and 65 companies of central paramilitary force have been deployed. Chief Minister Singh, 10 ministers, eight Chief Parliamentary secretaries, Deputy Speaker Jagat Singh Negi, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and over a dozen former ministers are among those contesting the polls.
The ruling Congress led by the chief minister and the BJP led with former chief minister Dhumal are contesting all 68 seats while the BSP is contesting 42 seats, followed by the CPI(M) 14, Swabhiman Party and Lok Gathbandhan Party six each and the CPI-3. There is straight contest only in one constituency (Jhanduta) while the maximum number of 12 candidates is in fray in Dharamsala.