Himachal Elections 2017 Live: Voting begins in all 68 constituencies; keen contest between Congress-BJP

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Voting in all 68 constituencies in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh began on Thursday morning where 337 candidates including 62 MLAs are in the fray.

Voting in all 68 constituencies in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh began on Thursday morning where 337 candidates including 62 MLAs are in the fray.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, 10 ministers, eight Chief Parliamentary Secretaries, Deputy Speaker Jagat Singh Negi, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and over a dozen former ministers are among those who have thrown their hat in the ring.

The ruling Congress led by the chief minister and the BJP led with former chief minister Dhumal are contesting all 68 seats while the BSP is contesting 42 seats, followed by the CPI(M) 14, Swabhiman Party and Lok Gathbandhan Party six each and the CPI-3.

The 12-days high-voltage campaign, which came to an end on Wednesday, saw over 450 rallies by star campaigners of the BJP and the Congress including Prime minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah who addressed seven and six rallies respectively. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi addressed three rallies. Corruption was the main focus of the BJP campaign with the party training its guns at Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, while the Congress hit out at the BJP over the issue of GST and demonetization.

08:26 AM

Elderly woman, Barfi Devi, casts her vote at polling booth number 7 in Samirpur 

आज देवभूमि हिमाचल प्रदेश में मतदान का दिन है। मेरी विनती है कि सभी मतदाता लोकतंत्र के महापर्व में भाग लें और भारी संख्या में मतदान करें। Urging people of Himachal Pradesh to vote in recrod numbers.

At present, the Congress and the BJP have 35 and 28 MLAs respectively in the 68-member House besides four independents while one seat is vacant.

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) are being used. VVPAT machines are being used for the first time in this Vidhan Sabha Election.