Dehradun, April 11 (IANS) At least 58 per cent of Uttarakhand’s 78.56 lakh voters cast their votes to seal the fate of 52 candidates in the fray for the hill state’s five Lok Sabha constituencies where the battle was mainly between archrivals BJP and Congress.
Medium to brisk polling was recorded in most polling booths in all five seats — Tehri-Garhwal, Garhwal, Nainital, Almora and Haridwar — with long queues witnessed in many places and people standing for hours to cast their votes.
“The polling was peaceful and fair. The polling percentage was tentatively 58 per cent,” said Chief Electoral Officer Saujanya.
Nainital and Haridwar seats recorded 66 per cent voting which was highest in the state. The lowest turnout of 49 per cent was in Almora seat while it was 50 per cent at Garhwal.
Director General of Police Anil Raturi also said that by and large, the polling was peaceful.
Out of the total 11,229 polling booths, nearly 697 polling booths were declared as ‘vulnerable’ and 656 as ‘critical’. Most of the vulnerable and critical booths were in the plains districts such as Udhamsingh Nagar, Haridwar and Dehradun.
Over 45,000 security personnel – 16,000 state police personnel, 65 companies of paramilitary forces and 16,000 home guards – were deployed, along with 67,000 polling personnel.
The BJP, which holds all five seats, is a straight fight against the Congress in almost all the five seats, though in Haridwar, the contest is nearly triangular with the Bahujan Samaj Party’s Antriksh Saini giving anxious moments to both BJP, which has fielded former Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, and the Congress’ Ambrish Kumar.
The main focus will be on Nainital seat where Congress General Secretary and former Chief Minister Harish Rawat faces a stiff challenge from BJP state chief Ajay Bhatt.
In Tehri seat, BJP’s sitting MP Mala Rajyalaxmi Shah, the daughter-in-law of late Maharaja Manvendra Shah of Tehri, is confronting state Congress chief Pritam Singh.
Garhwal seat also witnessed a straight fight between Congress’ Manish Khanduri, son of former Union Minister and Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri of the BJP, and BJP’s national Secretary Tirath Singh Rawat.
Union Minister and sitting MP Ajay Tamta is again pitted against Pradip Tamta of Congress in Almora.
The results will be declared on May 23.