Polling for the 68-seat Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections began amid tight security on Thursday, with 13.72 per cent voters exercising their franchise in the first two hours.

Voters across the state could be seen reaching polling stations even before polling started at 8 am despite cold weather conditions.

Shimla district recorded 18 per cent polling, Hamirpur 17 per cent, Chamba 12 per cent, Kangra 14 per cent, Mandi 16 per cent, Una, Hamirpur and Bilaspur 15 to 20 per cent and Solan and Sirmaur 18 to 20 percent.

Reports of fault in VVPAT machines were received in Sirmaur district, where polling began delayed by 15-20 minutes.

A total of 337 candidates, 19 of them women, are in the fray.

The main contest in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017 is between the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Congress has projected incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh as its chief ministerial candidate, while Prem Kumar Dhumal is the BJP’s CM candidate.

Virbhadra Singh and his family cast their vote at Rampur early morning, while Dhumal family exercised their franchise at their native place in Hamirpur.

Prem Kumar Dhumal
(Photo: SNS)

Besides 17,850 personnel of police and Home Guards and 65 companies of central paramilitary force have been deployed.

The ruling Congress led by the chief minister and the BJP led with former chief minister Dhumal are contesting all 68 seats while the BSP is contesting 42 seats, followed by the CPI(M) 14, Swabhiman Party and Lok Gathbandhan Party six each and the CPI-3.

A total of 50.25 lakh electorate, including 19 lakh women and 14 transgenders, will decide the fate of the candidates.

The polling will continue till 5 pm.

The vote count will be held on December 18 along with those of Gujarat.

(With agency inputs)