Uttarakhand Election LIVE: Voting Begins In 69 Assembly Constituencies

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Dehradun:  Voting has begun in Uttarakhand’s 69 constituencies spread across 13 districts (7 in Garhwal region and the remaining 6 in Kumaon region of the state). Residents of Uttarakhand will decide who will form the next government in the state. The BJP is hoping to unseat the ruling Congress government of Chief Minister Harish Rawat, which is battling corruption charges. Out of a total of 70 constituencies, 69 will vote today and 1 constituency – Karnaprayag will vote on March 9 because of the untimely death of BSP candidate Kuldeep Singh Kanwasi, who met with a fatal accident. Karnaprayag is a high profile constituency from where Deputy Speaker of the state assembly Anusuya Prasad Maikhuri is contesting. The security level across the hill state has been heightened, especially along the border with Nepal. Anti-incumbency has always been a factor in Uttarakhand, which has voted out the government in power at the time in successive elections since its formation. Chief Minister Harish Rawat is contesting from Haridwar Rural in Garhwal against sitting BJP legislator Swami Yatishwaranand, banking on the Muslim and Dalit voters in the city that’s one of the largest pilgrim centres of the country. The BJP has accused the Congress of turning “Dev Bhoomi” Uttarakhand, meaning the land of Gods to “Loot Bhumi” – the land of corruption. For Chief Minister Rawat, the battle is seen as uphill and he is also contesting from Kichcha in Kumaon. The Congress is portraying this as his attempt to reaffirm the party’s commitment to both Kumaon and Garhwal. His detractors see this as a last-ditch attempt to save the party in seats where up to 12 leaders have defected, leading to instability and a loss of face for the Congress. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged people of Uttarakhand to come out and vote in large numbers. A higher voter turnout will be seen as a vote for change in government. In 2012, Uttarakhand saw a voter turnout of 67.22 per cent.