Counting of votes in HP tomorrow; its Congress vs BJP

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Shimla, Dec 27 (UNI) Who will rule Himachal Pradesh for the next five years will be decided tomorrow when votes in the Assembly election in the tiny hill state are counted.

Counting will commence at 0800 hrs and trends are expected to be available after an hour. Final results for all the 68 assembly seats would be available by 1400 hrs.

In what was a straight contest between the Congress and the BJP, polling in the state was held in two phases on November 14 (3 tribal constituencies of Kinnaur, Lahaul Spiti and Bharmaur) and December 19 (in 65 seats).

An estimated 71 per cent of over 4.4 million voters had exercised their franchise in the two-phased polling, spread over 12 districts of the state.

While the BJP had fielded candidates for all the 68 constituencies, the Congress had fought election on 67 Assembly seats after the nomination papers of one of its candidates from Gangath Assembly constituency were rejected by the Election Commission.

The Lok Janshakti Party and the Samajwadi party had fielded 40 and 12 candidates respectively. Altogether 58 Independents, including more than a dozen rebels of the Congress and the BJP also contested the polls. The BSP, which has no member in the present Assembly, fielded candidates on 67 seats.

The three-week long electioneering came to an end on December 17 with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh winding up the Congress campaign by addressing meetings at Bilaspur and Palampur and BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate L K Advani holding rallies at Jawali and Shimla.

The campaign, which was marred by inclement weather and intense coldwave conditions, prevented the political parties from canvassing for two to three days following snow in the mid hills, accompanied by widespread rains in the lower hills of the state.

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