Himachal civic polls: 12% of polls in the first two hours in Dharamshala, 13% in Palampur

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A turnout of 12% was recorded in the first two hours of voting in Dharamshala and 13% in Palampur in Himachal Pradesh, where the ballot for four municipal companies is underway on Wednesday, officials said.

Voting takes place in Dharamshala, Mandi, Solan and Palampur from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mandi, Solan and Palampur are the newly created civic bodies and are running for the polls for the first time, while the Dharamshala Municipal Society was established in 2015 when the elections were not held on the party symbols.

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Dharamshala Municipality has 20 councilors, 17 of whom are directly elected and three are appointed by the state government. The councilors were elected by direct election which took place in April 2016.

Elections are also held simultaneously in six newly created nagar panchayats – Chirgaon and Nerwa in Shimla district, Ani and Nirmand in Kullu district, Kandaghat in Solan and Amb in Una district.

Voting started at a slow pace but is gradually gathering momentum, an election official said.

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In a tweet, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur called on the people to vote in large numbers and participate in the Democracy Festival.

A total of 279 candidates are trying their luck in 64 wards of the four municipal bodies, but direct competition is likely between the BJP and congressional candidates.

The Aam Aadmi party also presented its candidates in 43 neighborhoods out of a total of 64, while the CPI (M) presented only one candidate in a Mandi neighborhood.

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Eighty candidates are vying for 17 districts of Dharamshala, followed by 75 candidates for 15 districts of Mandi, 64 candidates for 15 districts of Palampur and 60 candidates for Solan.

The counting of the votes will take place immediately after the end of the ballot at 4 p.m. at the headquarters of the municipality.

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