Shimla: Congress seemed to be on track to wrest power from BJP in Himachal Pradesh after a gap of five years on Thursday, with results and trends showing a clear majority in its favour.
In the 68-member Assembly, the Congress bagged 13 seats and was leading in 26 according to the votes counted till 4 PM, election officials said.
The ruling BJP triumphed in 12 seats, and its candidates were ahead of their rivals in another 14 constituencies. Besides, three Independents, all BJP rebels, have been declared winners.
The Aam Admi Party, which carried out a vigorous campaign, was not in the lead in any of the seats in the northern hill state, that went to the hustings in a single phase on November 12.
Chief Minister and BJP stalwart Jai Ram Thakur was leading by a huge margin of over 36,000 votes from the Seraj constituency in Mandi district. But eight of his cabinet ministers – Suresh Bhardwaj, Verinder Kanwar, Ram Lal Markanda, Govind Thakur, Rajeev Shaijal, Rajinder Garg, Sarveen Chaudhary and Rakesh Pathania – either lost or were trailing.
Assembly Speaker Vipin Singh Parmar. and Deputy Speaker Hans Raj, both in the fray on BJP ticket, were leading.
Former state Congress President Sukhvinder Singh Sukh was leading from Nadaun assembly seat of Hamirpur district,
Among other prominent Congress leaders, former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh was declared elected, while Mukesh Agnihotri led his opponents.
However, party leaders Kaul Singh Thakur, Prakesh Chaudhary, Ram Lal Thakur, Asha Kumari and Chander Kumar have fallen behind their opponents.
Observers feel. infighting cost the BJP hard. The saffron party was pushed to the third position in its erstwhile bastions Hamirpur, Nalagarh and Dehra, where rebels contesing as independents won the races.
Party rebel Ashish Sharma was declared elected from Hamirpur, where sitting MLA Bhupender Thakur took the third slot. Similar were the fates of BJP’s official candidates Lakhvinder Rana in Nalagarh and former minister Ramesh Dhawala in Dehra assembly seats.
The BJP retained the Sundernagar seat when its candidate Rakesh Kumar got the better of Sohan Lal of the Indian National Congress by more than 8,000 votes.
The Congress won or had established leads in six of the eight seats of Shimla district. The BJP contestants were in the top position in Jubbal Kotkhai and Chopal seats of the district. In Solan district, Congress performed well in Solan, Arki, Doon and Kasuli seats.
In Sirmaur distinct, BJP candidates took the pole position in Pachhad, Poant Sabhib and Shilai seats. CPI(M) MLA Rakesh Singh is lying in the third position in Theog.