Bilaspur (Himachal Pradesh) [India], November 12 (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party national president JP Nadda on Saturday cast his vote at Vijaypur in Bilaspur in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.
"With the kind of atmosphere I'm seeing since morning, I think people have zeal and that zeal is over something right. I request people to cast vote in large numbers," Nadda said.
Nadda's wife Mallika Nadda also cast her vote.
The Bilaspur seat is important for the BJP as it is the home of party president JP Nadda.
The BJP has changed its candidate from the seat. Subhash Thakur is presently the sitting MLA who had defeated Congress' Bumber Thakur by 6,862 votes in the 2017 Assembly elections. The BJP has fielded Trilok Jamwal to win the seat for the party. Meanwhile, Congress has reposed its faith in Thakur.
Notably, Nadda was first elected from the Bilaspur Assembly constituency in 1993 and re-elected in 1998 and remained on the position till 2007.
Bilaspur is a seat where the BJP and Congress keep coming to power one after the other. Congress' Bumber Thakur had won the 2012 Assembly polls defeating BJP's Suresh Chandel by 5,141 votes.
Voting to elect a new government in Himachal Pradesh, spread across 68 seats in the state, began on Saturday morning at 8 am amid tight security.
A total of 55,92,828 electors who can cast their votes till 5 pm today will decide the fate of 412 candidates who are in the fray.
Out of the total number of electorates, 27,37,845 are women, 28,54,945 men and 38 third-gender. This time, the representation of woman candidates is 24.
The high-voltage campaigning by political parties ended on November 10.
The fight is in between the ruling BJP in the state which is looking to retain power and Congress which is banking on its '10 guarantees' that the party listed out in its manifesto to take them home. Aam Aadmi Party is in line looking to leave a mark in the state and is contesting on all the 68 seats.
The challenge for the ruling BJP is be to buck anti-incumbency and change the trend of the alternate government.
Besides these three parties, parties like Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Rashtriya Devbhumi Party (RDP) are in the fray.
BJP brought star campaigners like Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party chief Jagat Prakash Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for the polls. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also campaigned in the hill state. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also hit the ground along with other top leaders of the party including Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel.
According to Election Commission, a total of 7,881 polling stations have been set up for today's polls. The Kangra district has a maximum of 1,625 polling stations while the Lahaul-Spiti district has the lowest 92. There are 7,235 polling stations in rural and 646 polling stations in urban areas. Besides, three auxiliary polling stations have also been set up at Sidhbari (Dharamshala), Bara Bhangal (Baijnath) and Dhillon (Kasauli).
Among the key contests include Seraj where Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is contesting against Congress' Chetram Thakur and AAP candidate Gita Nand Thakur. Mahinder Rana is the CPI-M candidate.
Congress state chief Mukesh Agnihotri who contesting his fifth election from the Haroli assembly segment in the Una district where BJP has fielded Ramkumar and AAP pitted Ravinder Pal Singh Mann.
In Hamirpur, BJP's Narinder Thakur is the key challenger against Congress' Pushpendra Verma and AAP's Shushil Kumar Surroch.
Congress fielded Vikramaditya Singh, son of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh from Shimla Rural against BJP's Ravi Mehta and AAP's Prem Thakur.
In Mandi, the battle is between BJP candidate Anil Sharma and Congress' Champa Thakur. AAP fielded Shyam Lal in the seat.
The Shimla Urban is among the most talked about seats this time as BJP gave a ticket to Sanjay Sood, who runs a tea shop in the city.
Meanwhile, 67 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) comprising 6,700 personnel and 15 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) companies have been depoyed for holding free and fair Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh.
Besides this, 50,000 government employees have been put on poll duty. As many as 25,000 police officers are also stationed across the state.
Teams from the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) comprising 800 personnel have also been posted.
In 2017, BJP swept the Himachal polls, bagging 44 of the total 68 seats while Congress managed to get just 21 seats. (ANI)