Between 65 to 67 per cent polling in second phase of HP polls

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Shimla, Dec 19 (UNI) An estimated 65 to 67 per cent of over 44 lakh voters exercised their franchise in the second and final phase of Himachal Pradesh assembly elections today.

The polling was held for 65 constituencies today while the voting in three tribal assembly segments was conducted on November 14.

''The polling was peaceful and orderly and no major incident of violence was reported from any part of the state,'' state's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Manisha Nanda told reporters here.

She said people were lined up even after the stipulated time of 1700 hrs to cast their votes in several districts of the state.

The exact percentage of polling in the state would only be known tomorrow after the polling parties from far flung areas reached back, Ms Nanda said.

The fate of several BJP and Congress heavyweights, including Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh were sealed in the polling which covered 65 of the 68 constituencies.

Counting of votes for all the 68 assembly constituencies would be taken up on December 28.

In the 2003 assembly elections, the Congress had won 43 seats, the BJP 16 and independents six. Besides Himachal Vikas Congress' Sukh Ram, Sadanand Chauhan of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Mahinder Singh of Him Loktantrik Party had also made it to the assembly.

The Chief Minister is seeking re-election from Rohru constituency in Shimla district and is pitted against his old rival and BJP's state secretary Khushi Ram Balnatha.

The CEO said between 65 to 67 per cent of the 44 lakh eligible voters exercised their franchise to decide the fate of 335 candidates, including 24 women.

In the first phase of voting in the three tribal constituencies of Kinnaur, Lahaul Spiti and Bharmaur constituency in Chamba district, the voting was around 72 per cent.

Voting picked up in the second half on a chilly but a sunny day after a slow voter turnout in the morning.

Barring three incidents, in which cases were registered against Congress and BJP workers in Kangra district, the polling went off peacefully with over 40,000 security personnel, manning about 5,946 polling stations across 10 districts of the state.

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