Key political parties like BJP, Congress, and AAP will lock horns on Saturday with Himachal Pradesh going to polls. All contesting contenders, 412 to be precise, have been making efforts to woo voters in their favour. While BJP hopes to retain power in the hilly state, Congress is hopeful that the Himachal voters will go by the four-decade-old tradition of voting out incumbents.
The state will witness over 55 lakh voters decide the fate of Himachal Pradesh. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, former CM Virbhadhra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh and former BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti will be among some prominent candidates running for elections in 68 constituencies across the state.
Voting Timings and Key parties in fray
The hilly state will go to polls at 8 am on Saturday and will continue till 5:30 pm. Currently, the ruling BJP holds 43 states. The Election Commission has set up a total of 7,884 polling stations, including three auxiliary polling stations in far-flung areas. Of these, 789 are vulnerable booths, and 397 are critical ones. The EC has also set up its highest booth in Tashigang, Kaza in Spiti area of Lahaul Spiti district at a height of 15,256 feet that would cater to 52 voters.
Besides BJP, AAP and Congress, other parties contesting the polls are the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (CPI), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and Rashtriya Devbhumi Party (RDP). The BJP, Congress, and AAP are contesting on all 68 seats, while CPIM is fighting on 11, CPI 1, BSP 53, and RDP 29.
Himachal Pradesh has alternated between the Congress and the BJP in every election since 1982. If Congress manages to topple the BJP government in the state, it would be a morale booster for the party that has lost state after state since the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014.
All the contesting parties made several efforts till the very last moment. BJP president JP Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani and Anurag Thakur held a series of poll meetings apart from public outreach while the opposition Congress principally banked on general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
For the Congress, which has been on a downhill electorally since the last two election cycles, wresting Himachal Pradesh from the BJP is a matter of survival.
Voter Demographics in HP
A total of 1,21,409 voters are above the age of 80, including 1,136 centenarians. Of the total voters, 28,54,945 are male and 27,37,845 female voters in the state, which saw a polling percentage of 75.57 per cent in the 2017 assembly polls. This is up from 73.5 per cent polling in the 2012 assembly polls. There are only 24 women candidates in the fray this time, against 19 in 2017 and 34 in the 2012 assembly polls.
(with PTI inputs)
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