Around 70% polling in Uttarakhand

Nearly 70% polling was recorded in the Uttarakhand Assembly elections, which sealed the fate of 788 candidates.

Dehradun: Nearly 70 per cent polling was
recorded in the Uttarakhand Assembly elections, which sealed
the fate of 788 candidates including Chief Minister B C
Khanduri and state Congress president Yashpal Arya.

The polling to elect 70 legislators to the state Assembly
largely remained "incident-free".

About 70 per cent of the 63 lakh voters exercised their
franchise till the end of polling at 5PM, state Chief
Electoral Officer Radha Raturi told PTI.

The polling, which began on a dull note in the morning,
picked up momentum as the day progressed.

Only 10 per cent polling was recorded during the first
two hours till 10 AM. However, as the day progressed, the
number of voters reaching the polling stations increased.
Tight security arrangements were made for the election,
which largely remained incident-free, Raturi said. The
counting of votes will take place on March 6.

There are over 63 lakh electorates in the state where the
ruling BJP is locked in a close fight with Congress.

Chief Minister B C Khanduri, former Chief Ministers
Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Nityanand Swami and N D Tiwari and
Assembly Speaker Harbans Kapoor were among the early voters.

Khanduri, who is BJP`s chief ministerial candidate, said,
"There is a very good response (from the people for the
party)... We feel we will form the government comfortably but
again it is for the people to decide."
After casting his vote, senior Congress leader Tiwari
told reporters that there are bright chances of a change (of
power) in the state. "People have seen the government of other
party (BJP) in the past five years. I hope that they would now
give a chance to Congress," he said.

The elections will also decide the fate of top state
leaders including Khanduri from Kotdwar, Nishank from Doiwala,
the Leader of the Opposition Harak Singh Rawat from
Rudraprayag and Arya from Baajpur seats.

The main contenders BJP and Congress are both contesting
all the 70 seats.

In the outgoing Assembly, the BJP has a strength of 36
members followed by Congress with 20, BSP (8) and UKD (3)
while there are three Independents.

The Election Commission had made elaborate arrangements
for the smooth conduct of polling, Raturi said, adding the
poll personnel deployed in high-altitude areas were also
provided with sleeping bags, snow-boot and jackets.

A total of 75 companies of central paramilitary force
besides 10,000 home guards from Uttar Pradesh, 2,000 home
guards from Himachal Pradesh were deployed for the election.

9,744 polling booths were set up across 13 districts in
the state, of which 1,794 stations were declared as sensitive
and 1,252 others as hyper-sensitive.

On the EC directive, all government, non-government
offices, schools, colleges, industrial establishments and
shops remained close today to ensure that the electorates
could exercise their franchise.