Major political parties such as BJP, Congress and AAP will shut the horns on Saturday as Himachal Pradesh heads to the polls. All the contenders, 412 to be exact, have gone out of their way to win over voters. While the BJP hopes to retain power in the hilly state, Congress hopes Himachal voters will go for the four-decade-old tradition of voting out incumbent officials.
The state will witness more than 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 are among the prominent candidates to run for elections in 68 constituencies across the state.
Voting times and key parties in the battle
The hilly state goes to the polls at 8 a.m. Saturday and lasts until 5:30 p.m. Currently, the ruling BJP has 43 states. The Election Commission has established a total of 7,884 polling stations, including three auxiliary polling stations in remote areas. Of these, 789 are vulnerable stands and 397 are critical. The EC also set up its highest booth in Tashigang, Kaza in the Spiti area of Lahaul Spiti district at a height of 15,256 feet that could serve 52 voters.
Besides the BJP, AAP and Congress, other parties contesting the polls are the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Devbhumi Party (RDP) . The BJP, Congress and AAP are fighting on all 68 seats, while CPIM is fighting on 11, CPI 1, BSP 53 and RDP 29.
Himachal Pradesh has alternated between Congress and the BJP in every election since 1982. If Congress succeeds in overthrowing the BJP government in the state, it would be a morale boost for the party that has lost state after state since the BJP took power at the Center in 2014.
All participating parties have made various efforts up to the last moment. BJP President JP Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Prime Minister Yogi Adityanath, and Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani and Anurag Thakur held a series of polling meetings alongside the public, while the opposition congress mainly relied on Secretary General Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
For the Congress, which has been in a downward spiral since the last two election cycles, it is a matter of survival to wrest Himachal Pradesh from the BJP.
Voter demographics in HP
In total, 1,21,409 voters are over 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 75.57 percent poll rate in the 2017 election polls, up from 73.5 percent in the 2012 polls. only 24 female candidates are in the running this time around, up from 19 in 2017 and 34 in the 2012 election polls.
(with PTI inputs)
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