Over 57 per cent of the electorate in Uttarakhand cast their vote Thursday to seal the fate of 52 candidates as polling was held in the first phase of the general elections to its five Lok Sabha seats. The turnout recorded at 5 pm across the five seats was 57.85 per cent, Chief Electoral Officer Soujanya said.
Nainital Lok Sabha seat recorded the highest voter turnout at 66.39 per cent followed by Haridwar which recorded 66.24 per cent polling, she said. Tehri recorded 54.38 per cent, Pauri 49.89 and Almora 48.78 per cent, Soujanya said.
In the Kumaon region, people of at least a dozen villages and four polling booths in Chamoli district of Pauri constituency reportedly boycotted the polls, complaining of lack of roads despite repeated complaints to the state government.
The village adopted by Congress Rajya Sabha MP and the party's Almora candidate Pradeep Tamta also boycotted the elections. Though people had begun to queue up outside polling booths even before voting began at 7 am, polling picked up pace as the day advanced, Soujanya said. The officer said 61.14 voter turnout had been recorded in Uttarakhand in the 2014 general elections.
Prominent candidates in the fray are former chief minister Harish Rawat, sitting MPs Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Mala Rajya Lakxmi Shah and Ajay Tamta. The five constituencies are witnessing straight contests between the BJP and the Congress. The saffron party is looking to defend all the seats.
The BJP has gambled on relatively new faces in two seats by fielding state party president Ajay Bhatt in place of sitting MP Bhagat Singh Koshiyari against Harish Rawat in Nainital and former MLA Tirath Singh Rawat in place of sitting MP B C Khanduri from Pauri. Tirath Singh is pitted against Khanduri's son Manish, who is the Congress nominee.
The fate of 52 candidates is being decided by a total of 7856268 voters in Uttarakhand out of which 371220 are women, Saujanya said. Haridwar has the highest number of 1840732 voters while Almora has the lowest number of voters at 1337803, she said.
In total, 11229 polling booths were set up across the state out of which 697 were identified as sensitive and 656 as highly sensitive.