SHIMLA: Over 50 lakh voters are expected to cast their votes in Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections on Thursday. The incumbent Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party will lock horns in 68 constituencies. The polling has begun and will continue until 5 pm. Get the LIVE updates of Himachal Pradesh Elections here.
As the hill state goes to poll today, here are 10 things you need to know about the elections 2017:
- Both the Congress and the BJP are contesting from all 68 constituencies in the hill state, where 337 candidates including 62 MLAs are in the fray.
- The Bahujan Samaj Party or BSP is contesting in 42 seats, followed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M) in 14 seats, Swabhiman Party and Lok Gathbandhan Party six each and the Communist Party of India or CPI in three.
- The polling for the 68-seat Himachal Pradesh assembly will be held on nearly 7,525 booths across the hill state. A total of 50.25 lakh electorate, including 19 lakh women, will decide the fate of 338 candidates including 19 women.
- All eyes are riveted on two candidates – Congress leader and current Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and the BJP's PK Dhumal, 73.
- Himachal election results will be announced after 40 days, on December 18, along with those for Gujarat, which goes to poll on December 9 and 14.
- In the election campaign, Congress trained it's guns on corruption and the bailed CM Virbhadra Singh. Corruption was the main focus of the BJP campaign with the party training its guns at Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. Congress, on the other hand, raked up GST and demonetisation issues.
- Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi held just three election meetings, a day before the campaigning ended. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed two public rallies wo rallies at Rait (Kangra) and Sundernagar (Mandi) on Saturday.
- This year, the Election Commission announced a number of steps for the polls. The election will see the use of Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPATs) with all Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). In other words, voters will be able to visually check if the vote has gone to the candidate of their choice. The move is aimed at quashing allegations of EVM fraud and hacking that emerge from time to time after elections.
- Heights of polling booths has been increased to improve privacy and a larger display so voters can get a clear look at their VVPAT verifications. The VVPAT flash will be displayed for seven seconds to allow for verification.
- The EC said it would also monitor campaigning and canvassing through social media, social networking, bulk SMS, recorded phone messages and video calls. The Election Commission would also use social media to improve its own election management operations.