Battle lines have been drawn for tomorrow's poll for the 68-member Himachal Assembly where political heavyweights Prem Kumar Dhumal and Virbhadra Singh are jostling for attention of voters for whom the issue of price rise and corruption seems to have surpassed the anti-incumbency factor.
The BJP and Congress are contesting all 68 seats while BSP has fielded 66 candidates followed by Himachal Lokhit Party (36), TMC (25), SP (16), CPI-M (15), NCP and Swabhiman Party (12 each), CPI (7), Shiv Sena (4) and 105 Independents.
Led by chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, the BJP is hoping to script history in Himachal by going the Punjab way, where the Akali-BJP combine returned to power against historical projections.
Much like Punjab, Himachal has never repeated a government since 1977. Whether the November 4 elections mark a departure from norm or whether they see the Congress repeating an Uttarakhand, remains to be seen.
In all, 459 candidates are in the fray for tomorrow's elections, 27 of them women. As many as 7253 polling stations have been set up, including the highest polling station in Hikkim in Lahaul and Spiti at a height of over 15,000 feet.
Counting will take place on December 20.
In the 2007 poll, BJP had won 41 as against Congress' 23, while the independents and BSP won 3 and one seat respectively.
Corruption in both the BJP and Congress camps is a major election issue in the state, with the latter facing graver charges in the wake of scams such as coal block allocations, 2G spectrum and Commonwealth Games by Cong-led UPA at the Centre.
Though corruption charges have flown thick and high throughout the period of campaigning, the Congress has somehow managed to neutralise their effect by launching a counter offensive against Dhumal and his cabinet colleagues. Virbhadra Singh has openly accused the CM of giving away chunks of prime land to private players at throwaway prices.