With a predicted tight poll outcome, leaders of both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress are spending tense final hours before the electronic voting machines (EVM) are opened to unravel who wins the battle for Himachal Pradesh on Thursday. Both the parties are keeping a close watch on their flock, following fears of poaching if the exit poll predictions of a hung assembly come true.
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For the Congress, which desperately needs a morale boosting victory, no chances are being taken. AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi, who spearheaded her party’s campaign, has arrived in Shimla ahead of the counting and is staying at her residence in Charrabha on the outskirts.
While Rahul Gandhi stayed away from campaign because of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Priyanka held several rallies in the run-up to the polls. Party leaders are hoping that she will play an important role if the poll results are too close.
“Although there are no plans yet to shift the candidates anywhere, we will keep a close watch as the situation unfolds,” remarked a senior party leader.
Sources said that besides Shimla, some senior Congress leaders such as Bhupesh Bhagel, will remain stationed at Chandigarh, in case of a fractured verdict. Senior leaders in the Congress have started lobbying for the post of chief minister, even though it is still uncertain who will get majority.
The BJP, too is keeping a close watch. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakurwho is also camping in Shimla, took some time off and visited the Mall and ridge along with Election co-incharge Devinder Rana and interacted with people.
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The BJP leadership has asked the CM to stay put in the capital to garner support, in case independents are needed to break the tie. The party fears a dent in its chances from 21 rebels, although officially the leaders maintain they will win for an unprecedented second consecutive time.
Himachal voted for the 68 assembly segments on November 12.
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