Dharamshala (HP): A voter turnout of 40 per cent was recorded in Dharamshala and 49 per cent in Palampur till 2 pm on Wednesday as polling is underway for four municipal corporations in Himachal Pradesh with 279 candidates in the fray.
Polling in Dharamshala, Mandi, Solan and Palampur began at 8 am and will continue till 4 pm.
Mandi, Solan and Palampur are the newly-created civic bodies and are going for polls for the first time, while the Dharamshala municipal corporation was created in 2015 when the elections were not held on party symbols.
The Dharamshala Municipal Corporation has 20 councillors and 17 of them are directly elected while three are nominated by the state government. The councilors were elected through direct election which was held in April 2016.
Elections are also being 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 gaining momentum, an election official said earlier.
In a tweet, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur appealed to the people to vote in large numbers and participate in the festival of democracy.
A total of 279 candidates are trying their luck in 64 wards of the four municipal bodies, but the direct contest is likely between the BJP and the Congress candidates.
The Aam Aadmi Party has also fielded its candidates in 43 out of a total of 64 wards, whereas the CPI(M) has fielded only one candidate in a ward in Mandi.
Eighty candidates are in the fray for 17 wards of Dharamshala, followed by 75 candidates for 15 wards of Mandi, 64 candidates for 15 wards of Palampur and 60 candidates for Solan.
The counting of votes will be taken up immediately after the end of the polling at 4 pm at the municipal headquarters. Results are expected by late evening. (PTI)