The elections are keenly fought in Himachal Pradesh, so much, that a swing of 4-5 per cent in vote share up or down changes the fortunes of political parties in the small hill state.
Himachal has 68 Assembly constituencies, including three tribal segments.
The state was traditionally dominated by Congress party and it saw first non-Congress government in 1977, when Janata Party formed the government with 53 seats, pushing Congress to nine. After 1985, the state is witness to Congress and BJP coming into power alternatively after every five years.
In 2012, when the Congress wrested power getting 36 seats and a vote share of 42.8 per cent, pushing BJP to opposition with 26 seats and a vote share of 38.47 per cent.
The others, which included Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP), independents and some other parties, got a vote share of 18.72 percent.
In 2007 Assembly polls, the BJP had snatched power from Congress by winning 41 seats, walking away 43.78 per cent vote share. The Congress, which came down from 43 seats to 23 in 2007 got 39.54 per cent votes in the state.
Similarly, in 2003, the Congress got 43 seats and got 41 per cent votes in Himachal, while BJP got 35.38 per cent votes.
In 1998, when the ruling Congress and BJP got 31 seats each, their vote share was 43.5 per cent and 39 per cent respectively. The Himachal Vikas Congress, a third party floated by former Union minister Sukh Ram (after the telecom scam) as a splinter group of Congress had eaten up a vote hare of 9.6 per cent, getting 5 seats, retaining the balance of power in its hand . The HVC had helped the BJP form government, ultimately.
In 1993 and 1985, when Congress formed government, the difference in vote share of two parties was larger, 12.5 and 20 per cent respectively. In 1990, when Congress was ousted from power with 9 seats, it polled 36.54 per cent votes, against BJP’s 41.78 per cent.
Polling usually above 70% over three decades
The polling percentage in Himachal Pradesh has remained more than 70 per cent since 1982, barring 1990, when it was 67.74 per cent, leading to change of guard (except for 1985).
The highest poll percentage in Himachal so far was recorded in 2003 Assembly polls.
In 1977, however, when Congress was thrown out of power for the first time in Himachal by Janata Party, the voter turnout was 58.57 per cent- But that was the highest since 1952 when Congress ruled the state.