SHIMLA: After high-voltage campaigning by political parties, now the electorate of Himachal Pradesh will finally decide the political fate of the Himalayan state where the Assembly election will be held tomorrow.
According to the Election Commission, a total of 55,92,828 electors of which 27,37,845 are women, 28,54,945 men and 38 were third-gender, will decide the faith of 412 candidates. This time, the representation of woman candidates is 24. The results of the 68-seat Assembly polls will be declared on December 8.
The state, which has seen the power alternate between the BJP and Congress over the past several elections, will go to the polls on Saturday. While the BJP has expressed confidence in returning to power on the basis of the performance of state and central governments and its vision for the state, the Congress is hoping that some of its electoral promises will be a major draw among the electorate.
Aam Adami Party (AAP) too hopes to create a mark in the state and is contesting on all 68 seats.
Besides these three parties, parties like Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Rashtriya Devbhumi Party (RDP) are in the fray.
BJP brought star campaigners like Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party chief Jagat Prakash Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for the polls. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also campaigned in the hill state. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also hit the ground along with other top leaders of the party including Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel.
Saturday’s polls also carry much significance for JP Nadda since Himachal Pradesh is his native state.
According to Election Commission, a total 7,881 polling stations has ben set up for tomorrow’s polls. The Kangra district has maximum 1,625 polling stations while Lahaul-Spiti district has the lowest 92. There are 7,235 polling stations in rural and 646 polling stations in urban areas. Besides, three auxiliary polling stations will also be set up at Sidhbari (Dharamshala), Bara Bhangal (Baijnath) and Dhillon (Kasauli).
Among the key contests include Seraj where Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is contesting against Congress’ Chetram Thakur and AAP candidate Gita Nand Thakur.
Congress state chief Mukesh Agnihotri is contesting from Haroli where BJP has fielded Ramkumar and AAP pitted Ravinder Pal Singh Mann.
In Hamirpur, BJP’s Narinder Thakur is the key challenger against Congress’ Pushpendra Verma and AAP’s Shushil Kumar Surroch.
Congress fielded Vikramaditya Singh, son of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh from Shimla Rural against BJP’s Ravi Mehta and AAP’s Prem Thakur.
In Mandi, the battle is between BJP candidate Anil Sharma and Congress’ Champa Thakur. AAP fielded Shyam Lal in the seat.
The Shimla Urban is among the most talked about seats this time as BJP gave a ticket to Sanjay Sood, who runs a tea shop in the city.
Meanwhile, 67 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) comprising 6,700 personnel and 15 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) companies have been depoyed for holding free and fair Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh.
Besides this, 50,000 government employees have been put on poll duty. As many as 25,000 police officers are also stationed across the state.
Teams from the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) comprising 800 personnel have also been posted.
In 2017, BJP swept the Himachal polls, bagging 44 of the total 68 seats while Congress managed to get just 21 seats. (Agencies)