Voters in 3 panchayats in Kinnaur district boycott bypoll to Mandi Lok Sabha seat

Kinnaur, October 30

Villagers in three panchayats in Himachal Pradesh's Kinnaur district boycotted the bypoll to the Mandi Lok Sabha seat on Saturday in protest against the construction of a hydro-electric project, which they claimed will adversely affect the environment.

Besides these panchayats, villagers in four polling stations in Shimla district also boycotted the bypoll over bad condition of roads in their area.

The bypolls to the Mandi parliamentary constituency was held along with byelections to the Fatehpur, Arki and Jubbal-Kotkhai assembly seats in the state.

Kinnaur Deputy Commissioner and District Election Officer Apoorv Devgan told PTI that no voter in three panchayats cast their vote till 5 pm. Data after 5 pm is still awaited, he added.

There are 1,080 voters in Rarang panchayat, over 500 voters in Jangi panchayat and over 298 voters in Aakpa panchayat in Kinnaur district.

Rampur Sub Divisional Magistrate and Assistant Returning Officer Yadvender Pal told PTI that not even a single voter cast their vote in Runupu, Khori and Sharan polling stations, while only six exercised their franchise at the Jarashi polling station in Shimla district.

On the boycott of the bypoll by the three panchayats, villagers said the decision was taken to protest the construction of the Jangi Thopan Powari Hydro-Electric Project and claimed that the project will adversely affect the environment of the area.

The villagers said that four people cast their vote at Rarang panchayat's Aryan polling station. But they are not "permanent residents" of the area, they claimed.

The villagers said that the government has not paid any heed to their objections to the project and therefore, the decision to boycott the bypoll had to be taken. People were left with no other choice, they said.

Members of the Dafla Sports Club in Kanam village also did not cast their vote in support of the three panchayats boycott call, the villagers said from the three panchayats of Kinnaur district said.

In Shimla district, none of the 268 voters of Runupu polling station in Runupu village of Kinnu panchayat, 204 voters of Khori polling station in Kungal Balti panchayat and 265 voters of Sharan polling station in Naren panchayat cast their votes. Only six of total 166 voters at Jarashi polling station in Sharan panchayat cast their votes.

Villagers, who are voters of these polling stations, said that they had demanded several times from the government to improve the condition of roads.

The demand was never met, and with no other choice left, the decision to boycott the bypoll was taken, they said.

The residents of Sharan and Jarashi had also sent a memorandum to Shimla Deputy Commissioner Aditya Negi and election commission through the SDM, the villagers said.

The Mandi seat fell vacant after the death of BJP MP Ram Swaroop Sharma. He was found dead at his official residence in Delhi on March 17.

The Mandi bypoll saw a direct contest between Pratibha Singh of the Congress and Kargil war hero Brigadier Khushal Chand Thakur of the BJP.

Besides them, Ambika Shyam of the Rashtriya Lokniti Party, Munshi Ram Thakur of the Himachal Jankranti Party and independent candidates Anil Kumar and Subhash Mohan Snehi are also in the fray in the Mandi bypoll. PTI

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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