Himachal Pradesh: 62.25% voter turnout recorded till 5 pm

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Shimla, May 7: Nearly two million people voted by lunch-time in Himachal Pradesh Wednesday, as the state's four Lok Sabha constituencies went to the polls.

62.25% voter turnout was reorded till 5 pm.

As many as 38 candidates are in the fray for the Lok Sabha election in Kangra, Mandi, Hamirpur and Shimla constituencies.

"The voter turnout was 41 percent by 1 p.m.," state Chief Electoral Officer Narinder Chauhan told IANS.

By-poll in one assembly constituency also took place.

Voting began at 7 a.m. at most polling stations and there was no report from anywhere of any malfunction in electronic voting machines (EVMs), Chauhan said.

Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, former chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Prem Kumar Dhumal and Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma were among the early voters.

The state's oldest voter, 97-year-old Shyam Saran Negi, and his wife Hira Mani, 91, also exercised their franchise in a picturesque hamlet in Kinnaur district.

The main contenders include Shanta Kumar of the BJP in Kangra and Congress candidate Pratibha Singh in Mandi. Incumbent BJP MPs from Hamirpur and Shimla, Anurag Singh Thakur and Virender Kashyap, are re-contesting from their respective constituencies.

In 2009, the BJP bagged three seats, while Congress leader Virbhadra Singh won the Mandi seat.

Virbhadra Singh surrendered his seat in 2012 when he became chief minister and his wife Pratibha Singh was elected as an MP in the by-poll.

Over 4.8 million electors are eligible to vote in 7,382 polling stations.

In 2009, Himachal Pradesh saw 58.43 percent polling, while in the 2012 assembly polls, the state saw a record turnout of 73.51 percent.

[Know your state this LS poll: Himachal Pradesh]

India's first voter Shyam Saran Negi casts his vote at Kalpa

India's first voter Shyam Saran Negi today cast his vote at a polling booth at his native place. 97-year old Negi reached the polling booth at 6.55 AM accompanied by his wife Hira Mani (92).

Shyam Saran Negi became the first voter of the country when elections were held for the first time in the country on October 25, 1951 in Kinnaur.

The polling was held in phases and other parts of the country went to polls in February 1952. The State Election Commission had recently appointed him as its brand ambassador for the poll campaign in the tribal region.

Negi's name was registered at serial no 123 in polling booth no 50 today and incidentally the booth was set up in the school from where he had retired after serving for 23 years.

He was the first person to caste his vote there, followed by his wife.

Kinnaur Deputy Commissioner DD Sharma welcomed Negi at the polling station and honoured him by presenting a cap and scarf when he came out of the polling booth.

Kinnaur assembly segment falls in Mandi Lok Sabha seat and Negi has cast his vote in Lok Sabha for seventeenth time, including the Mandi Lok Sabha by-election held in June 2013.

Thanking the government for recognising him as the first voter, Negi appealed people to come out and cast their votes.

IANS

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