Shimla: The cold wave sweeping the hills took a toll on the electoral process underway as political parties had to abandon scheduled meetings and turnout at rallyâ€™s held was thin for the people preferred to stay indoors rather than go out to hear the leaders.
However, chief electoral officer, Manisha Nanda was not alarmed by the inclement weather.
â€œIn the 1989 February election the polling was conducted when there was over two feet of snow in places like Chopal, where I was an SDM,â€ said Nanda. â€œIn Himachal there is enthusiasm for the electoral process and voter turnout was not affected even then,â€ she added.
â€œWe have a prepared a contingency plan and the cold conditions are not very grave at the moment,â€ said Nanda.
Preparedness of the election department notwithstanding, higher reaches of Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Kangra, and Chamba districts were reeling under intense cold wave conditions.
Manmohan Singh, director meteorological department said that the prevailing western disturbance was expected to bring light to moderate rain over the next 72 hours.
While tourists enjoyed the cold conditions and took away as many pictures they could, politicians out to woo the electorate for a mandate bore the brunt through the day.
Chief minister Virbhadra Singhâ€™s rallyâ€™s at Salooni and Tissa in Chamba district and BJPâ€™s chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumalâ€™s rallyâ€™s at Kumarsain and Rohru had to be cancelled because of bad weather conditions.
CPI(M) general secretary, Prakash Karat was barely able to make to Shimla and hold an election rally under wet weather conditions.
However, Ram Swaroop Sharma, BJP election organizer maintained that the cold wave was not hindering the partyâ€™s campaign.
On the other hand chief minister Virbhadra Singh said â€œThe BJP has been inconsiderate about going in for an early poll as the cold weather conditions are bound to affect campaigning and voter turnout in at least 22 assembly segments.â€
Light to heavy snow fall was reported for Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur and Bharmaur, but the voting to these segments stands completed and the count is to be taken up after conclusion of polling in the remaining 65 assembly segment scheduled for 19th December. Counting for all the 68 assembly seats is scheduled to held on 28th December.