Himachal Pradesh all set to vote; to decide fate of 412 candidates

Out of the 412 candidates in the electoral fray, 24 are female, while 388 are male.

Out of the 412 candidates in the electoral fray, 24 are female, while 388 are male.

After weeks of intense campaigning, all 68 Assembly constituencies, in Himachal Pradesh will go to vote in a single phase on November 12 to elect the next government in the State.

In the high-stakes battle for Himachal Pradesh, the ruling BJP is trying hard to defend its turf, and the Congress has emerged as the main challenger, even as the newcomer the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also trying its luck in the electoral battle.

Also read: BJP, AAP announce all candidates for Himachal election

Out of the 412 candidates in the electoral fray, 24 are female, while 388 are male. A total of 55.93 lakh voters are on the electoral rolls of the State and will cast their ballot in 7,881 polling stations, according to official data.

Himachal Pradesh witnessed a high-pitched campaign from political heavyweights like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal among others.

The incumbent BJP, which aims to repeat the government kept its campaigning revolving around the government’s development work in the past five years and the benefits of a “double engine” (with the same party in power at the Centre and the State). The party is, however, battling ‘anti-incumbency’ over issues such as inflation, unemployment, demand for the restoration of the old pension scheme (OPS) for government employees, and problems of horticulturists-farmers among others.

The Congress party, which has been struggling with factionalism in absence of strong leadership is fighting the battle under ‘collective’ leadership, and in a bid to encash sentiments against the incumbent BJP, the Congress has extended promises to implement the old pension scheme for government employees and filling up of government jobs, if it forms the next government.

Also read: Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls | Uniform Civil Code being implemented through States, says BJP chief Nadda

With the AAP throwing its hat into the electoral ring, the divide among voters is bound to increase and the AAP could play the ‘spoilsport’ for the two parties in seats, where there are close contests between the traditional heavyweights. The party is seeking ‘a chance’ from voters in Himachal Pradesh against the traditional parties to let it replicate the Delhi and Punjab model of governance, where it’s in power. After its win in the assembly elections in Punjab, the AAP stepped up the tempo of its electioneering in April this year, however, close to the election, AAP’s prominent leaders were seen channelizing their energy more in poll-bound Gujarat and it was the local leadership that largely canvassed for the party in the State.

While the BJP and the Congress are contesting all 68 Assembly constituencies in the State, the AAP has put up candidates in 67 seats. Other parties in the fray include the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, which is contesting in 53 constituencies, Rashtriya Devbhoomi Party in 29, Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 11, Himachal Jan Kranti Party in six, and the Hindu Samaj Party and Swabhiman Party in three seats each. One candidate each is contesting from the Himachal Janata Party, Bhartiya Veer Dal, Sainik Samaj Party, Rashtriya Lok Niti Party and the Communist Party of India, apart from 99 Independent candidates.

In 2017, the BJP won 44 seats, Congress 21, the CPI(M) one and two seats were won by the Independents. The voter turnout was 75.57%.

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