Despite frequent appeals by the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and some BJP leaders to come out in large numbers to vote for the Mandi by-poll, the polling percentage could hardly touch the half-way mark in the hill State on Sunday.
Congress candidate and Mr. Singh’s wife, Pratibha Singh, voted at Rampur Assembly segment. The polling percentage was just 40 per cent till 4 p.m. and picked up in the last hour in some of the rural and remote areas. The residents of three panchayats in Solang Nalla in Kullu, Karsog in Mandi and Nallda in Lahaul-Spiti districts boycotted the elections since the infrastructural promises made to them were not fulfilled, said the officials.
The Seraj area of Mandi, from where the BJP candidate Jairam Thakur hails, the highest proportion of 65 per cent was reported. It was also very high (57 per cent) in Rampur, the home town of Chief Minister. In all urban areas of the constituency, the percentage was as low as 40, said the officials. But in the final count the overall percentage is expected to reach about 52 per cent.
There are 10,72,725 voters in the Mandi constituency spread in over five districts of the State including the three tribal Congress strongholds of Bharmaur, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti.
Voting has been postponed to June 27 in some polling booths of disaster-hit Kinnaur district and the counting would be held together on June 30. Election Commission officials said that all 1803 polling parties along with polled Electoral Voting Machines were expected to reach their respective collection centres under tight security and necessary arrangements had been made to keep them in safe custody till the counting of votes on June 30.