Himachal Pradesh bypolls see 71 per cent voter turnout; Nalagarh Assembly records highest polling at 78 per cent


A voter turnout of about 71 per cent was recorded in the bypolls in three Assembly constituencies of Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday, according to data shared by the state election department.

Polling was peaceful in the Nalagarh Assembly constituency, which recorded the highest polling of 78.1 per cent, Hamirpur (67.1 per cent) and Dehra (65.2 per cent), election officials said.

Data is being compiled and the polling percentages could increase, they said.

The seats fell vacant after Independent legislators Hoshiyar Singh (Dehra), Ashish Sharma (Hamirpur) and K L Thakur (Nalagarh), who had voted in favour of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha polls held on February 27, resigned from the state assembly on March 22 and joined the party the next day.

Votes 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.

In 2012, Ravinder Singh Ravi of the BJP was elected from Dehra.

To woo the electorate, Sukhu said during the campaigning, “Dehra will technically get a CM (Chief Minister) if they elect his wife.”

The main opposition BJP, which has won all four seats in the just concluded parliamentary elections, has fielded K.L. Thakur from Nalagarh and Ashish Sharma from Hamirpur, where they will be pitted against 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.

The bypolls were necessitated after the Speaker accepted their resignations on June 4. With four new legislators, the Congress has stabilised its government in the state.

At present, the Congress has 38 MLAs in the Assembly House of 65, while the BJP has 27.