The Congress made a comeback in Himachal Pradesh on Thursday, by winning 40 seats in the high-stakes electoral contest for the 68-member Legislative Assembly, edging out the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), which had appeared confident of returning to power.
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge congratulated the people of Himachal Pradesh and party workers for the elusive electoral success. “I thank the people and voters of Himachal Pradesh for the victory. I also thank all the leaders and in-charge secretaries who worked hard for the success of the party,” Mr. Kharge told reporters.
He said Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who campaigned in Himachal Pradesh, and Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra also contributed to the party’s victory.
Three Independents also emerged victorious. Aam Aadmi Party, which had contested on 67 seats, failed to open its account.
The ruling BJP, which was aiming to once again form the government with its high-pitched “mission repeat” campaign, failed to go beyond the 25-seat mark in the State assembly. While Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur won by a record margin of over 37,000 votes — the highest-ever by any CM in the State — eight of his 10 ministers lost the election.
Himachal Pradesh registered an approximate polling percentage of 75.6%, according to the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Here are the updates of the results:
CM Jai Ram Thakur wins Seraj seat by over 31,000 votes
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP leader Jairam Thakur has won the Seraj assembly constituency by a margin of more than 31,000 votes over Chet Ram of the Congress, according to the Election Commission.
Thakur, 57, won this seat for the sixth time even though the BJP lost power to the Congress. - PTI
AAP draws a blank on debut
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which contested the assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh for the first time drew a blank securing just 1.10% of the total votes cast.
The poor performance of AAP dashed its hope of emerging as a strong third force in the state to challenge the hegemony of BJP and Congress.
The party fielded candidates on 67 out of 68 seats – the exception being Darang assembly constituency - but maintained silence on its Chief Minister face, with no tall leader in the state to carry on the campaign. - PTI
Priyanka Gandhi thanks voters
Congress national general secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Thursday thanked the voters of Himachal Pradesh and congratulated party workers on the Congress’s return to power in the hill-state.
“Heartfelt thanks and greetings to the people of Himachal Pradesh for giving a mandate to the Indian National Congress. This is the victory of the resolution of the people of Himachal for progress. Best wishes to all the leaders and workers of the Congress party. Your hard work paid off,” Priyanka said in a tweet. - ANI
Most Ministers suffer defeat in Himachal Pradesh election
As the Himachal Pradesh election results were unveiled, it became clear that the anti-incumbency mood among the people has taken its toll on the BJP. In double jeopardy, the party tally not only came down from 44 seats in 2017 to 25 seats in 2022 but also several of its Ministers suffered defeat in their constituencies. Eight Ministers of Jai Ram Thakur government lost in this Assembly election and only one Minister could retain his seat.
CM Thakur tenders resignation to governor
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has submitted his resignation to the Governor. The Governor has accepted the resignation. The Governor, as advised by the Council of Ministers, has dissolved the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly with immediate effect, said an official statement. - Vikas Vasudeva
Congress registers first win in a Hindi-speaking State in the last four-years
Congress was headed towards its first electoral victory for the party under the newly elected party President Mallikarjun Kharge. And first victory for Congress in a Hindi-speaking state in the last four-years.
The credit is heaped on party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who addressed five rallies at Mandi, Solan, Kangra, Una and Sirmaur. She also closely monitored the elections. Mr. Kharge said, “The question is not about whether these results came soon after I was elected. We have won Himachal Pradesh elections and for which I thank all the voters, party’s workers, office bearers and everyone who worked during this election campaign.” He also thanked Ms. Priyanka Gandhi, Mr. Rahul Gandhi and Ms. Sonia Gandhi. - Sobhana K. Nair
‘Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra helped,’ says Mallikarjun Kharge on Himachal win
Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Himachal Pradesh victory: “The question is not about whether these results came soon after I was elected. We have won Himachal Pradesh elections and for which I thank all the voters, party’s workers, office bearers and everyone who worked during this election campaign. I also thank Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Mr. Gandhi led Bharat Jodo Yatra has helped us in this elections. We have worked with former Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s blessings. But it is a long journey ahead about which we will keep you posted.”
Rahul assures every promise made to people of Himachal will be fulfilled
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday thanked the people of Himachal Pradesh for the “decisive win” of his party in the hill state and assured them that every promise made by the party will be fulfilled.
“Heartfelt thanks to the people of Himachal Pradesh for this decisive victory. Hearty congratulations to all Congress workers and leaders. Your hard work and dedication really deserve all the credit for this victory,” the former Congress chief said.
Congress leaders credit Priyanka Gandhi’s campaign, strategising for Himachal win
With the Congress headed for a win in Himachal Pradesh, its leaders on December 8 credited party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s campaign in the hill state for the good showing of the party in the assembly polls.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) in charge of Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Shukla hailed Priyanka Gandhi’s campaign and leadership, lauding the “hard work” put in by her.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma also complimented Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for her “spirited” campaign in the State. - PTI
Dhani Ram Shandil defeats son-in-law and BJP candidate Rajesh Kashyap in Solan
Veteran Congress leader Dhani Ram Shandil has retained his Solan seat in Himachal Pradesh, defeating his nearest BJP rival and son-in-law Rajesh Kashyap on Thursday. Mr. Shandil defeated Kashyap by a margin of 3,858 votes.
Eighty-two-year-old retired army colonel Mr. Shandil, the oldest candidate in the fray, could barely hold on to his seat in the 2017 Assembly elections. He had won by a narrow margin of 671 votes against Mr. Kashyap, who had then contested from Solan for the first time.
The fact that all parties treated Solan as a prestigious seat could be gauged from the fact that ahead of the November 12 polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addressed their party rallies in the constituency, while AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal took out a road show.
Respect mandate, going to hand over my resignation to governor: Himachal CM
With the Congress set to cross the majority mark in the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said he respects the mandate and was going to hand over his resignation to the governor.
According to the latest results and trends, the ruling BJP had registered a win on 13 seats and was leading in as many others. - PTI
Congress to hold meeting of newly-elected Himachal MLAs in Chandigarh
The Congress has convened a meeting of all its newly-elected MLAs in Himachal Pradesh in Chandigarh after the declaration of results on December 8, and the meet was likely to pass a resolution authorising the Congress president to elect the CLP leader.
As trends indicated a comfortable win for the grand old party, AICC in charge of Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Shukla said the party was happy that it is getting an opportunity to form the government in the State.
Congress registers more wins in H.P.
Himachal Pradesh Minister Suresh Bhardwaj lost from the Kasumpti seat, defeated by sitting Congress MLA Anirudh Singh. The victory margin for Anirudh Singh was 8,655 votes.
Mr. Bhardwaj was shifted to Kasumpti from Shimla (Urban) constituency. He represented the Shimla (Urban) constituency in the outgoing Assembly.
Himachal Pradesh Minister Ram Lal Markanda also lost from Lahaul and Spiti Assembly seat to his nearest Congress rival Ravi Thakur by a margin of 1,616 votes, according to the Election Commission. - PTI
Congress sends top leaders to Chandigarh amid poaching buzz
The Congress is sending Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who is also an observer for Himachal elections, along with other senior leaders like Bhupinder Hooda and the party’s Congress in-charge Rajiv Shukla to the hill State, where the party seems likely to win.
Mr. Baghel addressing reporters in Raipur said there were apprehensions of poaching of Congress MLAs. ”We are taking our leaders to Chandigarh and closing our doors and windows as the BJP will try to poach, as they have done many times in the past,” said Tajinder Singh Bittu, Congress in-charge for Himachal. - ANI
Election results show political winds are changing: AAP’s Sanjay Singh
With AAP looking to open its single-digit account in Gujarat Assembly polls, Sanjay Singh thanked the people of Gujarat for enabling the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit to become a “national party”.
He also said that “election results in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, and by-election in Uttar Pradesh show that political winds are changing in the country.”
Congress ahead on 39 seats, wins 1; BJP wins 4, leads on 21
The Congress has surged ahead of the BJP on 39 of the 68 seats with one seat already under its belt, while the ruling party has won four seats and is ahead in 21 constituencies, according to trends from Himachal Pradesh where the counting of votes is underway.
BJP’s Sukh Ram Chaudhary, independent Ashish Sharma win
BJP candidate and Minister Sukh Ram Chaudhary wins from Poanta Sahib, according to Election Commission. He won with a margin of 8596 votes, against Congress’ Kirnesh Jung.
Ashish Sharma, an independent candidate from Hamirpur has won with a margin of 12,899 votes.
Congress will form government in Himachal: Congress leader Sukhu
Congress leader Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, speaking to ANI, said, “BJP considered itself strong in Himachal Pradesh. PM Modi and Amit Shah visited the State several times, and here today Congress is going to form the government with a full majority.”
Senior Congress leader and chairperson of the party’s campaign committee, Mr. Sukhu, is an MLA from Nadaun in Hamirpur district of Himachal.
Too early to speak now: Kharge on Gujarat, Himachal election results
As trends in the assembly elections of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh indicate a victory for BJP in the former and lead for Congress in the latter, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday said that it is too early to make comments and the party will respond when the final results are declared. ”It is too early to speak now. Our party will speak in the evening only after the final results are declared,” Mr. Kharge told reporters.
BJP wins 2 seats, Congress 1
Ranbir Singh, the BJP candidate from Nurpur won with 44,132 votes, against the Congress candidate Ajay Mahajan. Mr. Singh replaced BJP veteran Rakesh Pathania in the Nurpur constituency. Mr. Singh defeated Congress’ Ajay Mahajan by a margin of 18,752 votes. The contest for Nurpur was keenly watched as Minister Rakesh Pathania, who has won three times from the seat, was shifted to Fatehpur as the BJP candidate.
Harish Janartha, the Congress candidate from Shimla (Urban) won with 15,803 votes, against the BJP candidate Sanjay Sood.
Rakesh Kumar, a BJP candidate from Sundernagar won, with 29,432 votes.
A look at the Himachal Pradesh seat share from 1982-2017
Congress leaders heading to Himachal Pradesh with party inching towards majority
Congress leaders Bhupesh Baghel, Bhupinder Hooda, and Rajiv Shukla heading to Himachal Pradesh with the party inching towards majority in polls.
“The party is sending two observers— Mr. Hooda and Mr. Baghel— along with me. We will be travelling in sometime to Himachal today,” Mr. Shukla told PTI.
“Though the results are still coming in but it is a victory of the people. With the blessings of God, if the Congress wins, we will do everything possible for the interest of the people of Himachal Pradesh. Priyanka ji (Priyanka Gandhi Vadra) campaigned a lot, she worked really hard,” he said.
He also thanked Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, former chiefs Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, and general secretary organisation K.C. Venugopal for their cooperation in poll preparations.
Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda on Thursday said the Congress will form its government in Himachal Pradesh going by the present election result trends. “As per trends, we are going to form our government in Himachal Pradesh,” Mr. Hooda told PTI.
“I would be leaving soon for Shimla along with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and AICC in-charge for Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Shukla,” he said.
While Mr. Shukla is AICC in-charge Himachal Pradesh, Mr. Baghel was appointed senior observer for the polls.
The Congress has surged ahead of the BJP leading in 37 out of the 68 seats while the ruling party has won one seat and is ahead on 27, according to early trends from Himachal Pradesh where the counting of votes cast in the assembly polls is in progress. -PTI
Congress continues to lead in Himachal Pradesh
In Himachal Pradesh, early trends, which indicated a close fight, showed that the Congress was ahead in 37 of the 68 seats followed by the BJP, which was leading in 28 seats and was hoping to buck the anti-incumbency trend witnessed in the hill state for nearly four decades. Independents were ahead in three constituencies. The AAP, which had fielded candidates in 67 seats, was trailing in all seats. -PTI
Confident that results will be in our favour: H.P. Congress chief Pratibha Singh
Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Pratibha Singh on Thursday exuded confidence that the assembly election results will be in favour of her party even as the counting of votes for 68 seats in the State was underway.
Pratibha Singh, the wife of former Chief Minister late Virbhadra Singh, said the Congress is hoping to win at least 40 to 42 seats.
“We are confident that results will be in favour of the Congress and we will form the government,” she told reporters. -PTI
Congress on its way to edge out BJP, as per early trends
Amid the high-stake electoral contest for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly, the early election result trends on Thursday showed that the State Congress was heading for a clear mandate in favour of the Congress party.
The ruling Bharatiya Janta Party looks to be on its way out from the power as it could fall well below the majority seat mark. In the past three decades, Himachal has seen a bipolar electoral system with the Congress and the BJP alternately forming the governments and this time yet again the change looks imminent.
In Himachal Pradesh, 35 is the majority-seat mark and any party or alliance shall require these many seats to stake a claim in the State to form the government.
According to the Election Commission’s result trends, at 11:45 a.m., the Congress was leading in 38 assembly constituencies, while BJP was leading in 27 seats. The Independents were leading in 3 assembly constituencies. In 2017, the BJP won 44 seats, Congress 21, and the CPI(M) one and two seats were won by the Independents. -Report by Vikas Vasudeva
Congress’ Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu leads with over 3,600 votes from Nadaun
Former Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu was leading by over 3,600 votes against the BJP’s Vijay Kumar Agnihotri from Nadaun constituency in Hamirpur district, early trends showed.
Of the total 15,893 votes counted so far, Mr. Sukhu polled 9,362 against 5,756 votes for the BJP candidate.
Shankey Thukral of the Aam Aadmi Party was at a distant third with 632 votes.
Nadaun became a hot seat in the elections as Mr. Sukhu, who is seen as a Chief Minister contender, headed the Congress election campaign committee. Also, this was the fourth time that Mr. Agnihotri locked horns with him from the constituency.
In the 2017 elections, Mr. Sukhu defeated Mr. Agnihotri by 2,349 votes, while in 2012, Mr. Agnihotri got the better of the Congress leader by more than 6,000 votes. In 2007, Mr. Sukhu defeated Mr. Agnihotri by over 500 votes.
Home Minister Amit Shah’s jibe at Mr. Sukhu about his Chief Ministerial candidature was also the talk of the town during the election campaigning. Mr. Shah had indirectly taken a dig at Mr. Sukhu’s candidature, saying the Congress was a party of ‘rajas and ranis’ and even though many chief ministerial aspirants were in the fray, no one would actually get a chance. -PTI
Four-time MLA, Congress leader Mukesh Agnihotri leading in Haroli
Four-time MLA and Congress leader Mukesh Agnihotri has a lead of over 3,200 votes over his nearest BJP rival Ram Kumar in Himachal Pradesh’s Haroli constituency, according to the Election Commission.
The leader of opposition in the State assembly has defeated Mr. Kumar in the last two assembly polls in the State.
Haroli in Himachal Pradesh’s Una district is a key constituency, particularly for the Congress that has been scoring wins from here despite the BJP’s sway and is aiming at regaining power in the hill state.
Journalist-turned-politician Mr. Agnihotri is contesting for the fifth time, after winning four times in a row.
It is a triangular contest in Haroli among the Congress, the BJP, and the Aam Aadmi Party, which has fielded Ravinder Pal Singh Mann, a new entrant in the State elections.
Across large swathes of the constituency which borders Punjab, Mr. Agnihotri’s supporters are clamouring for their leader to be made the Chief Ministerial candidate of the Congress in case the party wins. - PTI
BJP’s rebels lead Himachal polls in 3 constituencies
The vote counting trends of the Election Commission of India show that the BJP’s rebels are leading from their respective constituencies in Himachal Pradesh as independent candidates. BJP’s rebel Hiteshwar Singh is leading the Himachal assembly election as an independent candidate from Banjar with 8585 votes.
Hiteshwar Singh, the scion of the Kullu royal family and son of former BJP MLA Maheshwar Singh, is in the fray from Banjar as a rebel. The Congress has fielded Khimi Ram, a former state BJP president, who subsequently defected to the grand old party, from the seat.
Rakesh Kumar wins Sundernagar
According to the updates by the ECI, Rakesh Kumar, a BJP candidate from Sundernagar has won, with 29,432 votes. The Congress candidate against him was Sohan Lal.
CM Jai Ram Thakur leading in Seraj by margin of over 22,000 votes
Chief Minister and BJP leader Jai Ram Thakur is leading in the Seraj assembly constituency in Himachal Pradesh by a margin of over 22,000 votes over Chet Ram of the Congress, according to the Election Commission.
The Seraj constituency falls under the Mandi parliamentary seat, which State Congress chief Pratibha Singh represents. She won it in a by-election.
Mr. Thakur won five elections earlier in 1998, 2003, 2007, 2012, and 2017 from Seraj, which was earlier known as the Chachiot constituency. The constituency has been dominated by the BJP for the last 25 years.
Six contestants are in the fray for the seat which has around 75,000 electors.
The other four candidates are Mahender Singh (CPI-M), Gita Nand (AAP), Indra Devi (BSP) and Narender Kumar (Independent). -PTI
Six-time Congress MLA Asha Kumari trailing in Dalhousie
Six-time Congress MLA Asha Kumari is trailing in Himachal Pradesh’s Dalhousie assembly seat with BJP candidate D.S. Thakur in the lead, according to the Election Commission.
Ms. Kumari is among the Chief Ministerial probable in case the Congress wins the assembly elections. Dalhousie in Chamba district shot into the limelight after veteran Congress leader and former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s aide Harsh Mahajan joined the BJP and queered the pitch for arch-rival Ms. Kumari, who is seeking re-election from the constituency.
His support to Thakur was a boost for the BJP that is looking to come to power in the hill State again.
Mr. Mahajan is the son of former Congress stalwart Des Raj Mahajan who was Assembly Speaker twice and had won from the Dalhousie constituency in 1967, 1972 and 1982.
The Dalhousie seat has a large rural population (89.78%) and saw bad roads and a shortage of staff and infrastructure in health facilities and educational institutions becoming major poll issues.
Ms. Kumari, who is from the erstwhile royal family of Chamba, was elected for the first time in 1985 and got reelected in 1993, 1998, 2003, 2012 and 2017.
The former Congress in-charge of Punjab and an ex-Minister, Ms. Kumari is the tallest leader in the district.
In 2012, Ms. Kumari defeated her BJP rival Renu Chadda with a margin of 7,365 but in 2017, her victory margin against Mr. Thakur reduced to 556. -PTI
Early trends indicate hung assembly
Amid the high-stake electoral contest for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly, the early election result trends on December 8 showed that the State was heading for a hung assembly with no single party getting the majority seat mark to form the government.
In Himachal Pradesh, 35 is the majority-seat mark and any party or alliance shall require these many seats to stake a claim in the State to form the government.
Congress, BJP both leading 32 seats
In a neck-to-neck competition between the BJP and Congress, trends show both leading at 32 seats in Himachal Pradesh. However, State Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who hails from BJP is currently leading from his constituency, Seraj with close to 15 thousand votes. Mr. Thakur is currently leading the Seraj seat with 14921 votes while the Congress candidate for this seat, Chet Ram is trailing behind by receiving 4351 votes so far.
Congress candidate from Shimla Rural and former CM late Virbhadra Singh’s son, Vikramaditya Singh leading with a total of 7233 votes. In the State capital, Shimla, Harish Janartha of Congress is currently leading with 3449 votes and BJP’s Sanjay Sood is trailing in the constituency with 2565 votes in the recently held assembly elections. At the Kullu seat, Congress’ Sunder Singh Thakur is leading with 11599 votes and BJP’s Narotam Singh is trailing with a total of 8033 votes.
Similarly, Congress candidate Sudhir Sharma is leading in the Dharamshala constituency with 6338 votes while Rakesh Kumar of BJP is trailing with 3584 votes, as per the latest trends by the ECI. In Bilaspur, the trends by ECI show tough competition between its Congress and BJP candidate as Bumber Thakur has gained 2947 while BJP’s Trilok Jamwal is trailing and has gained 2940 votes so far. -ANI
Independents Hoshiyar Singh, K.L. Thakur in the lead
With a tight contest between the bigwigs, the BJP and Congress, it’s important to note that Independents are leading in four seats in the State. Hoshiyar Singh from Dehra and K.L. Thakur from Nalagarh are in the lead.
Mr. Singh is the sitting MLA from Dehra. He won as an Independent in 2017 and subsequently joined BJP in June 2022 only to quit the party in October. Though in the good books of H.P. CM Jai Ram Thakur, his relationship with Union Minister Anurag Thakur was a strained one. He has been at loggerheads with the Dehra unit of the BJP since he joined the party which owed its allegiance to Anurag Thakur.
Krishan Lal Thakur, a rebel candidate contested in Nalagarh since the BJP denied a ticket for the seat. The BJP chose L.S. Rana a turncoat from Congress for the seat, since Mr. Thakur lost the 2017 elections.
We are confident of winning, says State BJP chief
Himachal Pradesh BJP chief Suresh Kashyap said the party is confident of winning. “In the early trends, the BJP was ahead. The party will retain power in the State and change the tradition (of the alternate government trend). The picture will be clear by noon,” Mr. Kashyap added.
BJP, Congress deadlocked in Himachal
The latest trends of vote counting in Himachal Pradesh disclose that BJP is leading the elections at 30 seats, while Congress is trailing behind with 28 of the 68 seats in the hilly State. The Chief Minister of the State is currently leading the Seraj seat with 10326 votes while the Congress candidate for this seat, Chet Ram has gained 3694 votes so far. At the Kullu seat, Sunder Singh Thakur is leading with 8905 votes and BJP’s Narotam Singh is trailing with a total of 5949 votes. Similarly, Congress candidate Sudhir Sharma is leading in the Dharamshala constituency with 6338 votes while Rakesh Kumar of BJP is trailing with 3584 votes, as per the latest trends by the ECI.
In the State capital, Shimla, Harish Janartha of Congress is currently leading with 1724, and BJP’s Sanjay Sood is trailing with 1146 votes in the recently held assembly elections. Meanwhile, the independent candidate has also been leading from three seats in the Himachal. -ANI
Congress’ Vikramaditya Singh leads in Shimla
According to the early trends by the ECI, Vikramaditya Singh, from Congress is leading in Shimla Rural. He has got 4914 votes, as opposed to BJP’s Ravi Kumar Mehta’s 3012.
Mr. Singh is a Congress MLA from the Shimla constituency. He is also the son of six-time Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. He has served as State youth Congress president and is now the general secretary of the State Congress committee and in-charge of communications.
Chet Ram Thakur trails behind
The Congress candidate against BJP’s Mr. Thakur, Chet Ram is trailing behind. Mr. Thakur is has gotten 10,326 votes till now. Chet Ram Thakur first contested on a Congress ticket in 2003.
Both the BJP and Congress lead in 30 constituencies each, with Independents leading in three seats, according to the ECI.
Candidates who are leading include Mr. Thakur from Seraj, BJP’s Puran Chand from Darang, Chetan Bragata, son of former Minister Narender Bragata, from Jubbal Kotkhai, Anil Sharma, son of former Union Minister Sukhram, from Mandi Sadar and Congress’ Jagat Singh Negi, a former Deputy Speaker, from Kinnaur.
BJP inches ahead in Himachal
As per the early trends, by the ECI, BJP is ahead in 31 seats while the Congress leads in 23 constituencies, and Independents lead in 3 seats. In Himachal, 35 is the majority seat mark.
The ECI further informed that among the competitors in the fray, the AAP has received 0.65% votes while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is at 0.32% and the Communist Party of India (CPI) was seen at 0% votes in the hilly State. Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) could gather 0.42% votes, as per the initial trends.
Mr. Thakur and Himachal Pradesh Congress president Pratibha Singh have maintained that their parties would get a full majority with over 40 out of the 68 seats. Congress general Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is also at her home in Chhabra keeping an eye on the latest trends. -PTI, ANI
CM Jai Ram Thakur leads in Seraj
According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), Jai Ram Thakur, the current Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh leads in his constituency Seraj, by getting 3763 votes. The incumbent Chief Minister is seeking a second term in Himachal Pradesh by contesting from the Seraj constituency in the Mandi district. In the 2017 assembly elections, BJP’s Jai Ram Thakur, who is trying his luck for the seventh time, defeated Chet Ram by 11,254 votes. Mr. Thakur first got elected to the State Vidhan Sabha in 1998 during the first Prem Kumar Dhumal government from Chahiot, which has now been renamed Seraj after the delimitation.
As the ruling BJP aims to retain power in the State with its ‘Mission Repeat’, Mr. Thakur asserted that the BJP’s battle is with Congress. He said the AAP doesn’t even exist in Himachal and moreover, people have “lost confidence in AAP after their disappointing governance in neighbouring Punjab”.
BJP hopes to set new records in Himachal Pradesh
No party has won a back-to-back election in Himachal Pradesh after 1985. If the BJP manages to retain power in the hill State, that would be another record.
Most of the exit polls have predicted an edge for the ruling BJP in the State in the closely contested elections.
Counting begins for 68 seats in H.P.
As the counting of votes begins in Himachal Pradesh, the stage may be set for anxiously close battles in several constituencies of this hill State, given the nail-biting finish of the 2017 polls.
The electoral battle in Himachal Pradesh will largely be between traditional rivals BJP and the Congress, though the entry of the AAP may tilt the equation in quite a few seats. The results of the high-stakes elections will also reveal whether the BJP’s all-out personalized campaign led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to buck the ‘alternative government’ trend has worked or not.
For the opposition Congress, however, a victory in Himachal is much-needed for its revival, as it has seen a spate of electoral losses in the last few years.
Himachal Pradesh has not returned any incumbent government to power in the last nearly four decades.
Counting of votes to start at 8 a.m.
More than 10,000 security personnel, returning officers, and other support staff will oversee the counting of votes for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly election on Thursday.
The counting will start at 8 a.m. in 68 counting halls spread across 59 locations throughout the State, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Maneesh Garg said on Wednesday. The counting will start with the postal ballot at 8 a.m., followed by EVM counting at 8.30 a.m. Mr. Garg said that subject to the availability of space, a maximum of 14 counting tables and a minimum of eight counting tables will be placed in the counting halls, with a separate table to accommodate nearly 500 postal ballots.
There will also be separate tables for scanning of electronically transmitted postal ballots linked to computers for counting. About 76.44% of voters had exercised their franchise in the Assembly polls held on November 12.
No candidate or any other person will be allowed within 100 meters of counting centers except those with a valid identity card/pass issued by the Election Commission of India. A system will be put in place for receiving counting related information and complaints at the CEO office. A helpline number 1950 has been made active.