Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections began on Thursday morning as the two biggest political heavyweights of the country – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress waited in anticipation. More than 50 lakh people in the state across 68 constituencies are expected to cast their votes to decide their leader and the counting of votes will be conducted on December 18, 2017. Historically, at least in the past seven Assembly Elections, people of Himachal Pradesh have elected Congress and BJP alternatively. If the pattern of those terms is to be followed then the saffron party is the inevitable choice of Himachalis this time.

Although Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is the reigning face of the state as he has enjoyed an unbelievable six terms at the helm of state’s hot seat, retaining the assembly amid the daunting Narendra Modi juggernaut will prove to be a monumental task. BJP’s CM candidate is Prem Kumar Dhumal, who himself has been a two-time chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, but BJP will be undoubtedly riding on the incredible popularity of Modi and tactical acumen of party president Amit Shah.

Here’s all you need to know about Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017:

  1. The total number of constituencies in Himachal Pradesh are 68. Congress and BJP are contesting on all 68 while Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party is fighting on 42 fronts. Communist Party of India (Marxist) is contesting with 14 candidates and Lok Gathbandhan Party and Swabhiman Party are in the fray with 6 candidates each. CPI is contesting on 3 seats.
  2. Since there are 68 seats in the state, a party needs to win at least 35 seats to form the government.
  3. Dharamshala will see out a total number of 12 contestants fighting for the constituency, which is the highest among all the constituencies of Himachal Pradesh.
  4. Congress’ Virbhadra Singh is contesting from Arki while his son Vikramaditya Singh is contesting from his father’s old constituency of Shimla (rural).
  5. BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal has also changed his constituency to Sujanpur as his son Anurag Thakur will be contesting from his home constituency of Hamirpur.
  6. BJP has fielded at least 6 women candidates in the Himachal Pradesh Elections 2017 while only 3 women candidates will be contesting for Congress.
  7. Arguably, the most venerable candidate in the elections after Virbhadra Singh is Mansa Ram. The Congress leader will be entering the elections for the 11th time from Karsog.
  8. Since the fifth Assembly Elections, Congress has been elected into power in 1985, 1993, 2003 and 2012.
  9. After uprooting the undisputed contention of Congress in 1990, BJP has won the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1998 and 2007.
  10. Last time out in 2012 Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections, Congress won 36 seats while BJP could only garner 26 seats.