Polling for all the five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand began at 7 am Thursday, with many people queuing up early in the morning to exercise their franchise. The fate of 52 candidates will be decided by over 78 lakh voters of the state, where all the five seats -- Tehri, Pauri, Haridwar, Almora and Nainital -- are being held by the BJP.
The saffron party is locked in straight contests with the Congress on all seats. High-profile candidates in the fray are ex-chief minister Harish Rawat who takes on state BJP chief Ajay Bhatt in Nainital, ex-CM Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank who faces Congress's Ambrish Kumar in Haridwar, BJP national secretary Tirath Singh Rawat is up against BC Khanduri's son Manish in Pauri and sitting MPs Ajay Tamta (Lok Sabha) and Pradeep Tamta (Rajya Sabha) in Almora.
Polling began at 7 am. Of the 78,56,268 voters in Uttarakhand, 3,71,220 are women and 259 belong to the third gender, Chief Electoral Officer Saujanya said. Haridwar has the highest number of 18,40,732 voters, while Almora has the lowest number of voters at 13,37,803, she said.
The highest percentage of voters are in the age group of 30-39 years who constitute 27.4 per cent of the electorate whereas people above 80 years of age constitute 1.6 per cent of the electorate, the chief electoral officer said. A total of 11,229 polling booths have been set up across the state out of which 697 have been identified as sensitive and 656 highly sensitive.
A total of 45,696 police, provincial armed constabulary, paramilitary force and polling personnel have been deployed for the free and fair conduct of polls in the state, IG Police and nodal officer Dipam Seth said.
(With inputs from agencies.)