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Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections 2017: Fate of bete noires Virbhadra Singh and Prem Kumar Dhumal to be sealed in voting machines today
The fate of the several political parties including traditional rivals ? the incumbent Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be sealed in the voting machines on Thursday in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh where more than 50 lakh voters will cast their votes in the 68-member legislative assembly.
Polling is currently underway in the state that started at 8 am. BJP's prominent leader Prem Kumar Dhumal has been projected as the party's chief ministerial candidate who has served two times as the CM of Himachal Pradesh while Virbhadra Singh will be congress' CM face for retaining power in the state.

In the current legislative assembly of Himachal Pradesh, the Congress and the BJP hold 35 and 28 seats, respectively, in the 68-member house. Apart from these two parties, there are four seats which are held by independent MLAs from regional parties, while one seat is vacant. Both the Congress and the BJP have been ruling the state alternatively since 1985.

BJP's CM candidate Dhumal had earlier expressed his confidence in the party's leadership and also said that his party will receive massive support from the people of Himachal Pradesh. "We aimed to get 50 plus seats but now that we are receiving so much support from all sections of the society, we expect it to cross 60," he was quoted as saying by ANI.

On the other hand, Virbhadra Singh expressed confidence. "Confident of getting majority in the election, the next Government too will be of Congress," ANI quoted the present Chief Minister as saying.

On poll duty today, the state has deployed around 11500 police jawans, 6400 home guards who will be supported by 65 companies of paramilitary forces at polling stations to ensure security as well as for conducting fair & free elections in the state, as per ANI report.

Section 144 has been enforced in the 100-metre radius around each polling booth in view of controlling any criminal act.

On his official Twitter account, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Himachal Pradesh voters to come out in record numbers to cast their votes in the assembly elections today.

This will be for the first time in Himachal Pradesh where the VVPAT (Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail) machines are being used at all of the 7521 polling booths. Regarding this, around 11050 VVPAT machines have been installed at all polling stations of the state assembly. Besides that, for the first time 136 booths in the state will be managed by women.

More than 50 lakh voters are registered in the state. The election results, however, will be announced 40 days later on December 18 alongside results of the Gujarat Assembly election, due in next month.

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