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Campaign ends in Himachal, eyes set on high voltage battle tomorrow; Exit Polls Broadcast Banned In Guj, HP To Vote

Narendra Modi’s popularity and his development agenda to return to power for a back-to-back second term. Meanwhile, Congress hopes to use the wave of anti-incumbency to win the hill state.

On the last day of the campaign, all parties put their best foot forward to win over the voters. Star campaigners including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Interior Minister Amit Shah, BJP Chief Jagat Prakash Nadda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for BJP, and Congress Leader Priyanka Gandhi concluded election campaigns for their parties.

A total of 55.92 lakh voters will decide the fate of more than 400 candidates for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh assembly. The elections will decide the fate of Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, CLP leader Mukesh Agnihotri, Congress Campaign Committee chairman Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and several other prominent leaders.

The results will be announced on December 8, along with the results of the Gujarat polls.

However, the Election Commission of India (ECI) issued a notice on Thursday banning the broadcast or publication of exit poll projections for Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat until voting in the two-phase elections concluded in Gujarat. Himachal will go to the polls on November 12, while Gujarat will vote in two stages on December 1 and 5.

Meanwhile, Congress in Gujarat released its second list of 46 candidates for the Assembly elections to be held in two phases on December 1 and 5. The total number of candidates declared by the party so far is 89. Congress last Friday had the first list of 43 candidates for the election. Among the candidates placed on the second list are Arjanbhai Bhudia from Bhuj, Bhikhabhai Joshi from Junagadh, Aslam Cyclewala from Surat East, Ashokbhai Patel from Surat North and Kamlkumar Patel from Valsad.

Congress wants to oust the BJP from government in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, where the saffron party has been in power for more than two decades.

BJP has also released its first list of 160 candidates for the two-stage elections to the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, removing Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel from his Ghatlodia constituency and removing a large number of incumbent MLAs. Names of Hardik Patel, the face of the Patidar agitation ahead of the 2017 polls who left Congress to join the BJP, and Rivaba Jadeja, the wife of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja, are on the list. While Hardik Patel will battle from Viramgam, Rivaba Jadeja has landed from Jamnagar North.

Union minister Bhupendra Yadav released the list and said the BJP has changed as many as 38 incumbent members, claiming most of the replacements were made with the consent of the incumbents. The party named its candidates for 84 of the 89 seats that will go to the polls on December 1 in the first phase and 76 of the 93 candidates who go to the polls in the second phase on December 5.

Out of 160 candidates announced, OBCs have been given maximum representation with 49 tickets, followed by Patel, the dominant community, with 40, STs 24, SCs 13, Kshatriyas 19 and Brahmins 13. Two tickets have been given to candidates from the Jain community . Among the candidates are 35 candidates under the age of 50.

Yadav said the list includes 69 incumbent MLAs in addition to 14 women, and 13 and 24 members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, respectively. He said a number of senior state leaders, including former Prime Minister Vijay Rupani and former Deputy Prime Minister Nitin Patel, have withdrawn from the contest and wrote to the party leadership.

Patil expressed confidence that the BJP will break its previous record of seat count and vote share in these polls. The BJP hopes to maintain its uninterrupted streak of victories in the state assembly polls since 1995.

The accession of the Aam Aadmi party has added an extra dimension to the state’s traditional bipolar elections, with the Congress, the main challenger to the BJP, being hit by another round of desertions by its leaders as it works to regroup.

AAP has also released its 14th list of 10 candidates for next month’s Assembly elections in Gujarat, bringing the number of nominees to 174 so far. With names of candidates for eight seats undisclosed so far – the state has a 182-member Assembly – the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit has yet to announce where it will field its top ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi.

After the 14th list, the eight seats the AAP has yet to place candidates for are Sidhpur, Kheralu, Visnagar, Mansa, Khambhalia, Dwarka, Bhavnagar West and Udhna. In the previously released candidate lists, the party has replaced some nominees. It recently replaced Yuvrajsinh Jadeja, a youth leader, with party member Suhag Panchal from the Dahegam assembly seat.

It had also replaced Chandrikaben Solanki with Jigar Solanki in Vadodara City and Viral Panchal with Vijay Chaudhary in the Manjalpur seat. Among the prominent candidates named so far are Gujarat AAP President Gopal Italia and Secretary General of the State Unit Manoj Sorathiya.

The party itself began releasing candidate names in August with the aim of giving participants ample time to connect with voters in their constituencies and publicize AAP’s policies and promises.

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