Shimla: Scams under the UPA government have tarnished the image of the country globally and eroded the democratic system, BJP leader LK Advani alleged on Thursday.

Winding up the campaign at Majra in Sirmaur district, just 24 hours before the closing of campaigning for Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls, Advani slammed the UPA government saying surfacing of new scams every day has "tarnished the image of the country globally and eroded the democratic system in the country."

Advani called for open public debate on all issues of public concern like in America and said the candidates contesting polls should debate the issue on a common platform to strengthen democracy.

Reiterating his demand for major electoral reforms, Advani said simultaneous polls should be held for Lok Sabha and all state Assemblies, voting should be made compulsory and an option to "reject all" should be included in the EVMs.

"Such electoral reforms would further strengthen our democracy and there would be no surprise if the Indian democracy becomes one of the most vibrant democracy in the world," he added.

He said that Dhumal government has fulfilled its promise to develop backward areas like Sirmaur, and appealed the people to re-elect BJP.

Expressing concern over cross-border terrorism, Advani said if any country wages a proxy war against India, it has to be fought a lesson.

The BJP national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain also lashed out at UPA for rampant corruption and asked the Muslims to vote for BJP.

Addressing election rally at Tani in Ani constituency in Kullu district, the leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley attacked the UPA government for shielding corruption and said that party has chosen a tainted leader to lead the party in Himachal Pradesh assembly polls.

Former MP Vinod Khanna addressed meeting at Bilaspur while former BJP president Rajnath Singh urged voters to return BJP to power at his rally at Sarkaghat.

Around 45.16 lakh voters, including 22 lakh female, shall decide the fate of 459 candidates in Himachal assembly poll.

This time the emphasis is on door to door canvassing.

Beside the traditional rivals, Congress and BJP, who have fielded 68 candidates each, many other parties are also trying their luck.

BSP is again fielding its candidates in 66 out of 68 constituencies in the state, barring Banjar in Kullu and Nadoun in Hamirpur.

Nationalist Congress Party and All India Trinamool Congress are making their debut in Himachal assembly elections this time.

Beside that the parties like CPI, CPI(M), SP have also fielded few candidates.

The biggest new entrant is Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP) is the creation of the ex-BJP stalwart Maheshwar Singh.

The party has fielded 35 candidate.

Chief Minister P K Dhumal is contesting from Hamirpur where a total of seven people are in the fray.

Seven-time MLA and the oldest candidate in fray, Congress veteran Vidya Stokes (84) is also pitched in a seven cornered contest in Theog constituency of Shimla.

There are 13 such constituencies where seven persons are trying their luck.

The Maximum number of 16 candidates are from Dehra in Kangra District where food minister Ramesh C Dhwala is the point of attraction, followed by 14 in Dharamsala constituency.    The counting shall be conducted on December 20. As many as 1,162 visually impaired voters would exercise their franchise in the November 4 Assembly polls in the state.

"Out of total 46,08,359 electors, 1,162 visually impaired electors were registered as voters in twelve districts with highest number of 415 visually impaired electors in Kangra district alone," Narinder Chauhan, Chief Electoral Officer said.

Chauhan said Shimla district has 176 visually impaired voters, followed by Mandi district - 144, Hamirpur - 112, Kullu - 95, Sirmaur - 99, Una - 70 and Bilaspur - 29.

Out of total 1,162 visually impaired electors, only 36 are Braille literate as per information available with the election department while 364 were 100 percent visually impaired, he said.

"The Commission had introduced Braille signage features in the Electronic Voting Machine to facilitate visually impaired electors to cast their votes without the help of companions and all Presiding Officers in the state would be provided Braille Ballot papers sheets to assist Braille literate voters," Chauhan added.

(Agencies)

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