Himachal Pradesh today witnessed 73 per cent voter turnout in elections to 50 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), which include 29 Municipal Councils and 21 Nagar Panchayats in 10 districts of the state.

The voting for the 50 ULBs was held across the state today in which 1,196 candidates were in fray in 401 wards of 10 districts of the state.

“Around 73 per cent (polling) has been recorded in 50 ULBs of the state and the data may change as voting percentage is still being compiled,” HP State Election Commission Electoral Officer Sanjeev Mahajan said.

The voting, which was held in 441 polling booths in 10 districts of the state, remained peaceful across the state.

Thirteen candidates were elected unopposed in ULBs elections, with 9 candidates getting elected unopposed in Shimla district while 2 candidates were elected unopposed in Una and one each in Kangra and Solan districts.

There were reports of voters boycotting elections in two wards in Karsog and Ner Chowk in Mandi district, home district of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.

The highest voting percentage was recorded in Una district at 73.40 per cent, followed by Solan at 71.40 per cent, Kangra at 71.50 per cent and Bilaspur at 70.40 percent. The lowest voting percentage had been recorded in Shimla district at 62.40 per cent, followed by Mandi at 63.50 per cent, Kullu at 64.40 per cent and Sirmaur at 67.40 per cent.

The State Election Commission had made special arrangements for Covid-19 infected voters who exercised their franchise after 5 pm.

The counting of votes had started after the polling concluded and the results were expected by late in the evening.

Though the ULBs elections were not being held on party symbol but both the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress were looking to secure their win in maximum number of seats to boost morale of party cadres for Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) elections that are scheduled to be held on 17, 19 and 21 January. The PRIs elections result will be declared on 22 January.

The PRIs elections would also be significant as it will reflect the mood of people of the state ahead of 2022 Assembly elections.

While the BJP has made the development in the state its main poll plank, the Congress party was accusing the BJP government of not delivering on poll promises and for its “failure” to carry forward development process in the state.

State BJP chief Suresh Kashyap claimed victory in the ULBs elections and said the voters of the state had supported the Jai Ram Thakur government for pro-people policies and for carrying out allround development in the state.

“Of the 102 panchayats where candidates had been elected unopposed, the party supported candidates has secured win in 94 per cent seats,” he added.

State Congress organizational secretary Rajneesh Kimta, too, claimed victory in ULBs elections and said the people had neglected “fake narrative of development” in the state.

“The people have voted against the BJP as the government has not delivered on poll promises and has also failed in carrying forward development process in the state,” he said.