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Four million to poll for 65 seats in Himachal
Onkar Singh in Shimla | February 14, 2003 17:43 IST
Chief Electoral Officer of Himachal Pradesh Mansiha Nanda on Friday said that the electoral officers would ensure free and fair polls in the state.
Himachal Pradesh would elect its new assembly on February 26, with over 4 million people casting their votes for 65 assembly seats.
The election for the three seats of Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti and Bharmour has been postponed to June 8.
"We have over 41 lakh voters in the state. This is 2.5 per cent more then the last elections. Of this 20,19,973 are men and 20,81,120 are women," Nanda told rediff.com.
"We have been working round the clock for last couple of months. Our work started in January 2002 when we took up the process of updating the electoral poll lists. These lists were further updated in November the same year. Our effort would be to ensure free and fair polls in the coming assembly elections," she said.
For the first time electronic voting machines would be used in all the 6,232 polling booths. "We have 8,500 EVMs, which came to Shimla last year. Right now we are training our polling staff. Two demonstration runs have been completed and we will hold another two before the machines are sent for polling," she said.
Over 27,000 polling personnel would be on duty on February 26; each polling team would comprise of a presiding officer and three other officials.
9, 000 officers and constables of the state police force would be deployed for duty along with 6,000 home guards. Ten companies of the state reserve police would also be put on duty.
Over 550 polling booths have been identified as very sensitive. The figure of sensitive booths is likely to be around 1050, which is the same as the elections in 1998.
In all, more then 400 candidates from seven political parties including the Indian National Congress, Bhartiya Janata Party, Himachal Vikas Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Lok Jan Shakti are in the fray.
The polling parties will have to trek on foot for over ten hours to reach the polling booths in seventy-two places. In 126 polling booths the trekking would be between seven to ten hours, five to seven hours for 168 booths, and three to five hours for 358 polling booths.
"The polling parties would reach their places of duties on 24 February, two days ahead of the polling date. In the very sensitive booths only officials of the central government would be deployed," she said.
The counting would be taken up at 43 centres on March 1. All the results will be declared in the afternoon.
"All our district headquarters are in contact with the headquarters on the internet and then we would pass on the information to the Election Commission of India on internet," she said.
Nanda does receive a large number of complaints of violation of the model code of conduct by various parties and disposes them off on daily basis.
"We had only one serious complaint and the election commission transferred one deputy commissioner of Mandi district as they were some complaints against him. Other than that we have had no serious complaint against high police or administrative officials," she added.
More reports from Himachal Pradesh