Voters brave cold for Himachal Pradesh panchayat polls

Voters in Himachal Pradesh braved the cold on Tuesday to cast their ballot in the first phase of the panchayat elections that began amid tight security.

Updated: Dec 28, 2010, 12:27 PM IST

Shimla: Voters in Himachal Pradesh braved the cold on Tuesday to cast their ballot in the first phase of the panchayat elections that began amid tight security.

Polling, which began at 7.00 am, is taking place in 11 districts across Himachal Pradesh.

"The polling for 1,091 panchayats in the state began peacefully. There has been no report of any delay in starting the poll process," Sharab Negi, state Election Commission secretary, said.

He said elections were not taking place in Lahaul and Pangi sub-divisions in Lahaul and Spiti and Chamba districts.

Police and home guard personnel have been deployed at all polling stations to maintain law and order, Negi said.

The counting of the votes would start soon after the polling process ends at 3.00 pm.

"The results for the posts of `pradhan` or president and `up-pradhan` or vice-president and `panches` or ward members would be declared late (Tuesday) evening," Negi said.

However, counting for the members of panchayat samitis and zila parishads (district executives) would be held on January 4.

The polling for the remaining Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) would be held on December 30 and January 1.

Himachal Pradesh is set to empower women at the grassroots level by electing only women to around 13,000 seats in the PRIs.

The state government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, in 2008 raised reservation of seats for women in all rural and urban civic bodies from 33 percent to 50 percent and it was for the first time that the elections to the panchayati posts were being held under the enhanced quota.

State Election Commission chief Dev Swarup said: "The elections will be held for around 27,000 seats and 50 percent reservation means almost half of the seats would be occupied by women candidates only."

IANS