Shimla: Amidst a tight contest, the counting of votes for the 68-member BJP-ruled Himachal Pradesh Assembly began on Thursday morning with tight security arrangements.
The high-stake election was held on November 12, sealing the electoral fate of 412 candidates, including 24 women. A 75.60 per cent voter turnout was recorded, breaking the 2017 record of 75.57 per cent.
The counting of votes began at 8 a.m. at 68 centres in 59 locations.
The results will decide the political fate of BJP leader and Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and his 10 ministerial colleagues, besides Congress Legislature Party Leader Mukesh Agnihotri and former state Congress chief Sukhwinder Sukhu.
Thakur led his campaign with the slogan ‘rivaj badlega’ (electoral traditions will change) as BJP governments have repeated in the recent Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana polls.
This small hill state has not seen any incumbent party returning to power since 1985. Since then both archrivals — the Congress and the BJP — ruled the state alternatively in eight terms.
With elections contested under the leadership of Thakur, who is in fray from Seraj Assembly constituency from where he won elections for five consecutive terms from 1998 onwards, BJP chief J.P. Nadda during campaigning has announced that if the party wins, he will be the Chief Minister.
However, most exit poll surveys have predicted a tight contest between the incumbent BJP and the opposition Congress, with the former holding slight edge.
They predicted the maximum the BJP could get in the state is 40, just six seats more than the half-way mark of 34 in the 68-member House.
Aaj Tak has predicted 26-31 seats for the Congress, the BJP is projected to win 24-34 seats. India TV-Matrize has projected Congress to win 26-31 seats in the state, while the BJP too is likely to bag 26-31 seats.