Campaigning Ends in Himachal, Eyes on High-voltage Fight Tomorrow; Exit Polls Telecast Banned in Guj, HP till Voting


Narendra Modi’s popularity and its development agenda to get back in power for a back-to-back second term. Meanwhile, Congress is hoping to exploit the wave of anti-incumbency to win the hill state.

On the last day of campaigning, all parties put their best foot forward to woo the voters. Star campaigners including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief Jagat Prakash Nadda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for BJP, and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi wrapped up election campaigns for their parties.

A total of 55.92 lakh voters will decide the fate of over 400 candidates for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly. The elections will decide the fate of Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, CLP Leader Mukesh Agnihotri, Chairman of Congress Campaign Committee Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and several other prominent leaders.

The results will be declared on December 8 along with the outcome of the Gujarat polls.

However, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday issued a notification banning the broadcast or publication of exit-poll projections for Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat till voting for the two-phase election concluded in Gujarat. Himachal will go to polls on November 12 while Gujarat will vote in two phases on December 1 and 5.

Meanwhile, in Gujarat, Congress released its second list of 46 candidates for the Assembly elections scheduled to be held in two phases on December 1 and 5. The total number of candidates declared so far by the party is 89. The Congress last Friday had released its first list of 43 candidates for the elections. Among the candidates named in the second list, Arjanbhai Bhudia has been fielded from Bhuj, Bhikhabhai Joshi from Junagadh, Aslam Cyclewala from Surat East, Ashokbhai Patel from Surat North and Kamlkumar Patel from Valsad.

The Congress is seeking to oust the BJP from the government in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where the saffron party has been in power for more than two decades.

BJP also released its first list of 160 candidates for the two-phase elections to the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, fielding Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel from his Ghatlodia constituency and dropping a large number of sitting MLAs. Names of Hardik Patel, the face of the Patidar agitation ahead of the 2017 polls who quit the Congress to join the BJP, and Rivaba Jadeja, wife of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja, figure in the list. While Hardik Patel will contest from Viramgam, Rivaba Jadeja has been fielded from Jamnagar North.

Releasing the list, Union minister Bhupendra Yadav said the BJP has changed as many as 38 sitting members, claiming that most replacements have been made with the consent of the incumbents. The party named its candidates for 84 of the 89 seats that will go to the polls in the first phase on December 1 and 76 of 93 candidates going to the polls in the second phase on December 5.

Of the 160 candidates announced, OBCs have been given maximum representation with 49 tickets, followed by Patel, the dominant community, with 40, STs 24, SCs 13, Kshatriyas 19 and Brahmins 13. Two tickets have been given to candidates from the Jain community. Among the candidates, there are 35 candidates whose age is below 50 years.

Yadav said the list includes 69 sitting MLAs besides 14 women, and 13 and 24 members from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, respectively. He said a number of senior leaders from the state, including former chief minister Vijay Rupani and former deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, have opted out of the contest and had written to the party leadership to this effect.

Patil expressed confidence that the BJP will break its previous record of seat tally and vote share in these polls. The BJP is hopeful of maintaining its uninterrupted winning streak in the state assembly polls since 1995.

The entry of the Aam Aadmi Party has added an extra dimension to the state’s traditional bipolar elections, with the BJP’s main challenger Congress hit by a fresh round of desertion by its leaders as it works to regroup.

AAP also released its 14th list of 10 candidates for the next month’s Assembly elections in Gujarat, taking the number of nominees declared so far to 174. With names of candidates for eight seats not declared so far – the state has a 182-member Assembly – the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit is yet to announce from where it will field its chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi.

After the 14th list, the eight seats on which the AAP is yet to field candidates are Sidhpur, Kheralu, Visnagar, Mansa, Khambhalia, Dwarka, Bhavnagar West and Udhna. In the lists of candidates released earlier, the party has replaced some of the nominees. It recently replaced Yuvrajsinh Jadeja, a youth leader, with party member Suhag Panchal from the Dahegam Assembly seat.

It had also replaced Chandrikaben Solanki with Jigar Solanki in Vadodara City and Viral Panchal with Vijay Chaudhary in the Manjalpur seat. Among the prominent poll candidates declared so far are Gujarat AAP president Gopal Italia and state unit general secretary Manoj Sorathiya.

The party began the exercise of releasing the names of candidates in August itself with an aim to give enough time to contestants to establish contact with voters in their constituencies and spread awareness about AAP’s policies and promises.

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