Nearly 30,000 security personnel have been deployed in the northern hill state for today’s crucial Himachal Pradesh assembly elections, which have just begun. According to news agency ANI, these include as many as 67 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces and at least 11,000 state police troops.
In addition, 15 companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been sent to ensure free and fair elections. 50,000 government employees have also been assigned to poll duty.
Earlier, images uploaded from booths in Hamirpur, Mandi, and Seraj showed officials conducting trial polling before the elections began at 8 a.m.
In addition to the security forces, 800 men from the National Disaster Relief Force and the State Disaster Relief Force have been deployed in the northern hill state. The NDRF and SDRF have placed ten men each in the district headquarters of Chamba and Pangi, whose polling booths are snowbound. In addition, ten NDRF soldiers have been assigned to the district headquarters of Kaza, Udaipur, Lahaul, and Spiti Valley. In addition, the State Disaster Management Authority has deployed 50 NDRF and SDRF personnel in Chamba, Lahaul, and Spiti in the event of an untoward incident or natural disaster.
According to an official, they had to walk 14 kilometres to reach the polling station in Chask Bhatori in Chamba, which is approximately 4,500 metres above sea level and had 26 people entitled to vote.
Fresh snowfall was reported in Himachal Pradesh’s higher peaks on Friday.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has established 7,884 voting booths in Himachal Pradesh, comprising 7,235 in rural areas and 646 in urban areas. In addition, three extra voting sites have been established in outlying locations.
There are 5,592,828 registered voters in the hill state, with 2,854,945 males and 2,737,845 females. Over 120,000 of them are over the age of 80, with 1,136 of them being centenarians.
There are 412 people running for 68 assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh. Only 24 of these are women. The incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which wants to keep power, and the opposition Congress have both fielded candidates in all 68 seats. Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is contesting 67 seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has filed candidates in 53 constituencies.
There are 99 independent candidates running in the election.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the saffron camp’s campaign in Himachal Pradesh, while the party also brought in celebrity campaigners such as Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party national president JP Nadda, and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Meanwhile, among other prominent officials, the grand old party witnessed general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel campaign.
Since 1982, the BJP and Congress have alternately ruled the state, and the saffron party hopes to break this trend by winning a second consecutive term.
The results of the single-phase polls will be counted on December 8.