30 pc voter turnout in first four hours of Himachal Assembly bypolls

by IANS |

Shimla, July 10 (IANS) A voter turnout of 30 per cent was recorded in the first four hours for the bypolls for three Assembly seats -- Dehra, Nalagarh and Hamirpur -- in Himachal Pradesh Assembly on Wednesday.


As many as 13 candidates are in the fray and the 2.59 lakh voters will cast their votes till 6 P.M. on Wednesday.


The polling is being conducted to fill vacancies created by the resignation of incumbent members. The ballots will be counted on July 13.


In a straight contest between traditional arch-rivals, the Congress and the BJP, the stakes are high for Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu with his wife Kamlesh Thakur making her electoral debut from Dehra in Kangra District.


This constituency was carved out after delimitation in 2010 and the Congress has never won this seat.


The Chief Minister campaigned aggressively in Dehra, compared to two other seats, to ensure victory for Kamlesh Thakur, who is in the fray against BJP nominee Hoshiyar Singh, who won the seat as an Independent candidate in 2022 for the second-consecutive time.


To woo the electorate, CM Sukhu said during campaigning that Dehra will technically get a CM if they elect his wife.


The main Opposition BJP, which has won all four seats in the just-concluded parliamentary elections, has fielded KL Thakur from Nalagarh and Ashish Sharma from Hamirpur, where they will be pitted against the Congress' Hardeep Bawa and Pushpendra Verma, respectively.


Both KL Thakur and Ashish Sharma won the seats as Independent candidates in 2022 before joining the BJP earlier this year.


The duo, along with Hoshiyar Singh, resigned from the Assembly in March and joined the BJP.


Earlier, in a major reprieve to the government, the Congress won four out of six Assembly bypolls on June 4. However, it lost all four Lok Sabha seats to the BJP for the third time in a row.


With four new legislators, the Congress has stabilised its government in the state. At present, the Congress has 38 MLAs in the Assembly of 65, while the BJP has 27.

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