Dharamsala, Nov 2: Around 45.16 lakh voters including 22 lakh women shall decide the fate of 459 candidates in Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections on Nov 4.
In the last few days, the candidates have been busy seeking votes. This time, the emphasis is on door-to-door canvassing.
While Congress and BJP candidates are contesting all the seats, BSP has fielded its candidates in 66 out of 68 constituencies in the state, the exceptions being Banjar in Kullu and Nadoun in Hamirpur.
Nationalist Congress Party and Trinamool Congress are making their debut in the Himachal Assembly polls. CPI, CPI-M, Samajwadi Party, Loktantrik Jan Shakti Party, Himachal Swabhiman Party, Hindustan Nirmaan Dal and Indian Justice Party have also fielded a few candidates.
The biggest new entrant is Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP). The creation of former BJP stalwart Maheshwar Singh, the party has fielded 35 candidates.
In none of the 68 constituencies, there is a direct fight. Triangular fight is happening in two constituencies: 1- Churah of Chamba where candidates of Congress, BJP and BSP are contesting and 40- Nadoun of Hamirpur where Congress, BJP and Himachal Lokhit Party men are in the fray.
There is a four-cornered contest in Siraj, SriRenuka ji, Jubble & Kotkhai and Rampur. Five candidates are fighting the election in 14 constituencies and six in 15 including that of Shimla Gramin where Vir Bhadra Singh is one of the candidates.
Chief Minister PK Dhumal is contesting from Hamirpur where a total of seven people are in the fray. A re-entrant into Congress, Major Mankotia is one of the seven candidates in Shahpur.
Seven-time MLA and the oldest candidate in fray, Congress veteran Vidya Stokes (84) is also pitched in a seven cornered contest in Theog constituency of Shimla. There are a total of 13 such constituencies where seven persons are trying their luck.
Eight persons are in the fray in 10 constituencies and nine in 5 constituencies. Ten candidates are contesting at Mandi and Gagret whereas 11 at Arki.
The maximum number of 16 candidates are seen in Dehra in Kangra district where Food Minister Ramesh C Dhwala is the focus of attention, followed by 14 in Dharamsala constituency where two sitting MLAs namely BJP's Kishan Kapoor (Industry Minister) and Sudhir Sharma of Congress are trying their luck.
This time, 107 candidates are fighting the election as Independents.
The counting shall be conducted on Dec 20. Prem Kumar Dhumal believes he will return to power. Vir Bhadra Singh is confident of overthrowing the BJP government. According to political observers, it is a neck-to-neck fight between the Congress and the BJP at the moment.