Shimla:  The polling for the 68 seats of Himachal Pradesh assembly began amid tight security on Sunday. Electors across the state could be seen reaching polling stations even before voting started at 8 a.m.

Poll officials said there has been no report of any delay in starting the poll process. The polling will end at 5 p.m. Poll officials are expecting heavy polling as the weather is clear and sunny. A record number of 459 candidates, including 27 women, are in the fray.

Election Commission has set up 7,253 polling stations for 46,08,359 electors, including 23,76,587 men. The main contest is between the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Congress leader and five-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh will cast vote at his native place in Rampur town, some 120 km from here, while Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal will exercise his franchise in Samirpur, now part of Bhoranj constituency. They are contesting the elections from Shimla (rural) and Hamirpur seats respectively. Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma will cast vote in the state capital. In 2007, the BJP won 41 seats, the Congress 23, the BSP one and independents three.

The lone BSP legislator later joined the BJP. At that time, the poll percentage was 71.61 percent: men 68.36 percent and women 74.01 per cent. Votes for the election will be counted on Dec 20.


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