Vote count in Himachal begins

Shimla, Dec 18 (IANS) Counting of votes polled in all the 68 Assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh that went to the polls on November 9 began on Monday across the state, Chief Electoral Officer Pushpendra Rajput said.

The verdict will decide the fate of 337 candidates including Chief Ministerial nominees Virbhadra Singh (Congress) and Prem Kumar Dhumal (Bharatiya Janata Party).

A total of 37,83,580 people voted — a record 75.28 per cent polling.

The Congress and the BJP contested in all the 68 constituencies while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) fielded 42 candidates and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) 14.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which made its debut in Himachal in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, preferred to stay away this time.

While most exit polls have indicated the BJP’s return to power with an absolute majority, political observers said it was a neck-and-neck contest between the Congress and the BJP.

The state has alternately elected Congress and BJP governments since 1985. In 2012, the Congress won 36 seats and the BJP 26. Independents won six seats.

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