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It's a place known for a 1,000-year-old monastery and a small lake. It's a place that has got used to hosting tourists of the adventurous kind, who venture out to travel up to an altitude of 12,000 feet. But these days, Nako, a small hamlet atop a mountain in Kinnaur district, is abuzz for different reasons—it has the highest polling station in Kinnaur district; is the closest polling station to the India-China border; and, on November 4, its 360 voters will vote in the Assembly elections on the same day as the rest of Himachal Pradesh after 19 years.
The primary school building near the Nako monastery has been readied for the D-day. "It will be a big day for us. It was only during the last Assembly elections that we voted before the rest of the state. Prior to that, we had mostly voted after the rest of Himachal had cast its vote, at times even after a government had already been formed. But this time, there is a lot of excitement among the people because they realise that their vote is going to matter," says Booth Level Officer Gurdev Singh, a Nako resident who is now on election duty and is responsible for delivering voter slips to the 360 Nako voters at their residences.
"Of the 876 people who live in Nako, 360 have votes. In the past, we have seen around 70 per cent voting. This time, we are trying to raise awareness to a level where we can achieve 100 per cent voting. Voting together with the rest of the state has made us feel integrated, and given us a sense of belonging," Gurdev Singh says. But with the unpredictable weather at Nako at the beginning of November, he realises that may not be possible. "But we will try our best," he says.
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