Shimla, Dec 28: The BJP today looked all set to gain an emphatic majority in the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly as the latest counting trends started pouring in.
The BJP was leading in 40 out of 65 seats. The Congress was leading in 19 seats while others were leading in six seats. Both Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh (Rohru) and BJP's chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal (Bamsan) took comfortable leads over their nearest rivals. All seven Cabinet ministers in the Virbhadra Singh government Agriculture Minister Raj Kishan Gaur (Kullu), Irrigation, Public Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur (Darang), Forest Minister Ram Lal Thakur (Kotkehloor), Excise and Taxation Minister Rangila Ram Rao (Gopalpur), Industries Minister Kuldip Kumar (Gagret), Power Minister Vidya Stokes (Kumarsain) and Health Minister Sujan Singh Pathania (Jawali) were trailing.
Former Tourism and Transport Minister G S Bali (Nagrota) and former Education Minister Asha Kumari (Banikhet), both from Congress were leading.
Former Ministers J P Nadda (Bilaspur), Kishen Kapoor Dharamshala), Ishwar Das Dhiman (Mewa), former Speaker Gulab Singh Thakur (Sundernagar), Roop Singh (Sundernagar), Narendra Baragta (Jubbal Kotkhai) and Ravinder Singh Ravi (Thural) were in the lead.
Former Union Minister Sukh Ram's son Anil Sharma (Mandi) of Congress was leading.
Vikram Singh (BJP) from Jawan, Damodar Dass (BJP) from Balh, Sukh Ram (BJP) from Paonta Sahib, Satpal Singh Satti (BJP) from Una, Harshwardhan (Cong) Shillai, Randhir Sharma (BJP) Kotkehloor, Sat Prakash (Cong) Banjar, Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu (Cong) from Nadaun, B K Chauhan (BJP) from Chamba and Jagat Singh Negi (Cong) from Kinnaur were leading.
Also leading were Rakesh Kalia (Cong) from Chitpurni, Sudhir Sharma (Cong) from Baijnath, Virender Kanwar (BJP) from Kutlehar, Balbir Singh (BJP) from Gagret, Sohan Lal (Cong) from Kusumpti, Radha Raman Shastri (BJP) from Chaupal, Thakur Singh Bharmauri (Cong) from Bharmaur, Rajiv Bindal (BJP) from Solan, Rakesh Verma (Ind) from Theog and BJP state president Jai Ram Thakur from Chachiyot.
A first in the history of the Assembly elections in the hill state, counting for the 68 constituencies started simultaneously this morning.
The Election Commission has set up 41 counting stations. Five thousand officials, including 878 counting supervisers, 878 counting assistants and 878 additional staff, has been deputed for completing the counting process.