Prime News, National (Shimla), November 8:- The hill state of Himachal Pradesh goes to polls on Thursday with traditional rivals, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) locking horns in all 68 constituencies 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 Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is contesting 42 seats, followed by the CPI(M) 14, Swabhiman Party (SP) and Lok Gathbandhan Party (LGP) six each and the CPI-3.
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. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).