The polling began in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh on Thursday in all 68 constituencies. The Congress and the BJP are locking horns in the state 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.
Here are the live updates from Himachal Pradesh polls:
# 74% voting recorded till now: Election Commission
# Polling time in Himachal Pradesh elections ends; visuals from a polling station in Mandi.
# India's oldest voter Shyam Saran Negi cast his vote in Kinnaur, says everyone must work in the nation's interest
# 54.09% polling recorded till 2 pm
# 28.6% polling recorded till 12 noon
# Union Minister JP Nadda casts his vote at a polling booth in Bilaspur
# 13.72% polling recorded in first two hours of Himachal Pradesh elections
# Virbhadra Singh and his son Vikramaditya cast their votes at a polling booth in Shimla
# Hamirpur: BJP's chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal and BJP MP from Hamirpur Anurag Thakur cast their votes
# Confident of getting majority in the election, the next Government too will be of Congress: Virbhadra Singh
# Time has come, people have made up their mind to get rid of Congress who has looted Himachal Pradesh. The state needs a senior leader like Dhumal ji to look at the affairs of Himachal which is under the debt of more than Rs 50,000 crore: Anurag Thakur, BJP MP from Hamirpur
# We aimed to get 50 plus seats but now that we are receiving so much support from all sections of the society, we expect it to cross 60: Prem Kumar Dhumal, BJP's CM candidate
We aimed to get 50 plus seats but now that we are receiving so much support from all sections of the society, we expect it to cross 60: Prem Kumar Dhumal, BJP's CM candidate #HimachalPradesh pic.twitter.com/7kulnZrzdz— ANI (@ANI) November 9, 2017
#Voting at polling station number 55 in Kinnaur, Reckong Peo has not yet started due to a technical glitch; the polling booth is all women-managed
#Polling underway in all the 68 constituencies of Himachal Pradesh people cast their votes at a polling booth in Shimla's Rampur
# Voters queue up to cast their votes at a polling booth in Dharamshala
# Assembly election to take place today, polling for all the 68 constituencies will begin at 8:00 am and go on till 5:00 pm
The 12-days high-voltage campaign, which came to an end on Tuesday, 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 demonetisation.
There is straight contest only in one constituency (Jhanduta) while the maximum number of 12 candidates is in fray in Dharamsala.
The BJP has fielded four Congressmen including former minister Anil Sharma and given ticket to on Independent from Chopal while Congress had fielded two independents from Paonta Sahib and Kangra.
Both Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Dhumal have shifted their constituencies and are contesting from Arki and Sujanpur.
Chief Parliamentary Secretary Mansa Ram, who was elected for the first time in 1967 from Karsog(SC), is in the fray for eleventh time.
There are 19 women in the fray including six fielded by the BJP and three by the Congress while seven rebels each of BJP and Congress are also contesting the polls.
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.
Over 180 independents and a dozen rebels of the Congress including former ministers Singhi Ram (Rampur) and Vijay Singh Mankotia (Shahpur) are in the fray.
A total of 50,25,941 voters are eligible to cast their vote.
As many as 7,525 polling booths have been set up in the state and 37,605 polling personnel have been deputed for poll duty.
Besides 17,850 personnel of police and Home Guards and 65 companies of central paramilitary force have been deployed, Chief Electoral Officer Pushpender Rajput said.