60% turnout in Shimla civic body poll

Shimla, June 16 (IANS) The Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC) elections registered over 60 per cent voter turnout in its 34 seats that went to polls on Friday. The percentage is likely to go up slightly, an official said.

Showers late in the afternoon slowed down the voting process.

“The elections in all the constituencies ended peacefully. The poll percentage was over 60 per cent by 5.30 p.m. and will certainly go up by three to five per cent,” an electoral officer told IANS.

Tibetans in exile also exercised their franchise in the elections to the oldest municipal corporation in the country after Chennai and Kolkata.

Voting began on a dull note, with below five per cent polling in the first hour and by 10 a.m. rose to 15 per cent. It picked up gradually as the day progressed and recorded 45 per cent by 2 p.m. However, rain slowed down the polling again around 3 p.m.

Women turned out in strength compared to the men.

A total of 126 candidates, including 50 women, are in the fray but the candidates are not contesting on party symbols.

Unlike the last elections in 2012, when residents elected the mayor and his deputy, this time votes were only polled for councillors. The group with the maximum councillors will have internal polling for mayor and deputy mayor.

The last civic body polls saw 65 per cent polling.

The state Election Commission has set up 153 polling stations to enable over 91,000 voters to exercise their franchise through electronic voting machines.

The BJP has supported 34 candidates, the Congress 27 and the CPI-M 22 candidates. The Communists are supporting six independents.

Votes will be counted on Saturday.

Interestingly, the age-old issues of water shortage and the spread of waterborne diseases continued to be the main poll issues, besides shortage of parking lots and traffic jams.

In 2012, the CPI-M won the Mayor and Deputy Mayor posts as also election for one councillor’s seat. It thus ruled the Shimla Municipal Corporation with only three members in the 25-seat house — the majority of the councillors were from the Congress.

The civic body in this erstwhile summer capital of the Raj had been ruled by the Congress for 26 years in a row till the last elections.

–IANS

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