New Delhi, Nov 9: 74 per cent voters cast their votes in  Himachal Pradesh to choose their chief minister between Prem Kumar Dhumal and Virbhadra Singh. Voters will now have to wait for 40 days to know whether the Congress will retain power or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will rule the roost. Results will be announced on December 18.

In 2012, the voter turnout stood at 73.51 percent and in 2007 it was 71.61 percent.

On their part, both the incumbent CM Virbhadra Singh and his challenger BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal claimed victory after casting their votes. While Virbhadra is contesting from Arki seat, Dhumal, a two-time CM himself, is in the fray from Sujanpur.

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“Confident of getting majority in the election, the next Government too will be of Congress,” said Virbhadra Singh after casting his vote in Shimla. His son Vikramaditya is contesting from Shimla (Rural) seat. (Also Read: Groom in Wedding Attire to 100-Year-Olds – These Voters Made Himachal Pradesh Elections More Interesting)

Barring a few reports of voting being delayed due to faulty EVMs, polling was largely peaceful across the state.

In the 68-seat Himachal Assembly, a party needs to win at least 35 seats to form government. The Congress had won 36 seats in 2012. The BJP had won 26 seats then.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah urged people of the state to come out in large numbers to vote.

“Urging people of Himachal Pradesh to vote in record numbers,” PM Modi said in his tweet.

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Fact File:

    1. The Election Commission set up as many as 7,525 polling booths for the single-phase election in Himachal Pradesh.
    2. Voting was held on 68 seats for which 337 candidates, including 62 sitting MLAs, were in the fray. Dharamsala has the maximum number of candidates at 12.
    3. The state witnessed 12 days of high voltage campaign with both the ruling Congress and BJP pushing hard.
    4. For the BJP, it was PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, UP CM Yogi Adityanath, Union Ministers Smriti Irani, JP Nadda who headed the campaign. On the other hand, the Congress largely depended on Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and party veteran CM Virbhadra Singh for reaching out to the people.
    5. PM Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah addressed seven and six rallies respectively. Rahul Gandhi had three public gatherings to his name.
    6. Corruption was the main focus of the BJP campaign with the party training its guns on CM Virbhadra Singh while the Congress hit out at the BJP over the issue of GST and demonetisation.
    7. After Goa, Himachal Pradesh was the second state where the new EVMs with VVPAT paper trail machines were used on all polling stations.
    8. India’s oldest voter Shyam Saran Negi, 100, cast his vote in Kinnaur. Negi had first voted in 1951.

               9.The Election Commission used web-casting on 2,307 polling stations in the state for live monitoring of polling activities.

10.The term of the present Himachal Pradesh Assembly ends on January 7, 2018.