National

Polling begins for Himachal Pradesh assembly elections

New Delhi: Voting began for the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh on Thursday morning, wherein 338 candidates are contesting across 68 seats in the hilly state.

Congress Party's Virbhadra Singh and Bharatiya Janata Party's Prem Kumar Dhumal are the Chief Ministerial candidates in the two-cornered battle.

While Singh is the current Chief Minister of the state, Dhumal has served the post twice before. Both of them have shifted their constituencies and are contesting from Arki and Sujanpur.

All throughout the promotional campaign, the Congress used Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation as its key weapons against the BJP. It also slammed Dhumal for the cricket association scam, in which he and his two sons, Anurag Thakur and Arun Dhumal, got bail.

This election will play a decisive factor for Singh, the longest-serving Chief Minister, who will serve a seventh term in the Legislative assembly if victorious.

If results come in favour of the Congress, it will be a huge morale booster for the party which has registered a decline in its vote share across the country since 2014 General elections.

On the other hand, the BJP kept blasting the Congress on the corruption charges against Singh and mocked the incumbent government for slow performance in the election campaigns.

If the 'one-sided contest' claims of BJP comes true, the elections will set the stage for 2019 General elections, adding one more state in the party's kitty.

However, if defeated, it will be a huge blow to the BJP, which is confident about an anti-incumbency in the state.

The results of the polling will be announced after 40 days, on December 18, in line with those of the Gujarat polls, scheduled in two phases for next month. 

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