The Bharatiya Janata Party went all guns blazing to wrest the four Lok Sabha seats of Himachal Pradesh, evident from the fact that party`s prime-ministerial candidate Narendra Modi held multiple rallies in the hill state.
But the party faced tough opposition from the Congress which threatened to upset Modi`s apple-cart. Some exit polls hinted at the Congress winning at least two seats in the state. The others hinted at the BJP maintaining status quo by retaining three constituencies.
In the 2009 elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party won three of the four Lok Sabha seats in the Himalayan state and it fielded two of its incumbents—Virender Kashyap from Shimla (SC) and Anurag Thakur from Hamirpur seats—in the 2014 polls. It also fielded veteran party leader Shanta Kumar from the Kangra Lok Sabha seat. Bolstered by the Modi wave, the BJP expected these three to win.
BJP`s incumbent MP Dr Rajan Sushant veered over to the Aam Aadmi Party camp upon finding himself ticketless and he hoped to make it difficult for Shanta Kumar by cutting into the BJP`s traditional votebank.
In a master-stroke, the Congress fielded state chief minister Virbhadra Singh`s wife Pratibha Singh from Mandi. Mrs Singh was a formidable opponent and the BJP had a tough time finding a suitable candidate to battle her. Congress looks confident of its chances here.
In the fray against sitting Shimla MP Virender Kashyap (BJP) were Congress` Mohan Lal Bragta and CPI-M`s Jagat Ram.
Historically, the Hamirpur seat has been a bane for the Congress. It has only the seat on one occasion in the past 25 years. And this time around too it found it difficult to put up a strong opponent against Anurag Thakur (the son of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal). But the party managed to prop a former Dhumal loyalist, Rajinder Rana, as the Congress candidate from the seat.
The former Himachal chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal was in the eye of the storm ever since his name surfaced in the alleged phone tapping in the state. The issue caught public eye hours before Congress` Vibhadra Singh took oath as the CM for a record sixth term in December 2012. Singh sped up investigation in the case right before the Lok Sabha polls with hopes of gaining some leverage out of it.
Experts believe that the Congress could have benefited from the UPA government`s ascent to "one rank, one pension" for military personnel. The Congress party claimed that a large number of defence personnel who hail from Himachal will benefit from it.
The fate of all candidates was boxed on May 7 and Friday will decide the future of those in the run.