Shimla, Oct 22: Battle lines have been drawn for multi-cornered contests with 459 candidates remaining in the field for 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly going to polls on November 4.
A triangular competition would be witnessed in Nadaun and Churah (SC) constituencies respectively while Rampur (SC), Sri Renukaji (SC) and Seraj and Jubbal and Kotkhai are posed for four-cornered contests.
A maximum number of 16 candidates are in the fray from Dehra, followed by Dharamsala (14), Arki (11) and Mandi and Gagret (10 each).
Fifteen constituencies each would witness five-cornered and six-cornered contests while seven candidates are in the field in thirteen constituencies, ten in eight constituencies and four in remaining constituencies.
Top contenders—Chief Minister P K Dhumal, former Chief Minister and HPCC president Virbhadra Singh and leader of the opposition in Vidhan Sabha Vidya Stokes—are locked in a seven-cornered contest in Hamirpur, Shimla (Rural) and Theog.
Dhumal is pitted against Natinder Thakur; Virbhadra Singh is facing BJP greenhorn Ishwar Rohal while Vidya Stokes is facing formidable rivals Rakesh Verma (BJP) and Rakesh Singha (CPI-M).
Irrigation and Public Health minister Ravinder Singh Ravi, who shifted to Dehra after his Thural constituency was scrapped in delimitation, is facing a new face Brig R S Rana of the Congress in a sixteen-corned contest.
The lone woman minister Sarveen Chowdhary is facing her old rival Vijay Singh Mankotia (Congress) in seven-cornered contest from Shahpur while Public Works Minister Gulab Singh is locked in eight cornered contest. Forest minister Khimi Ram is pitted against Karan Singh of Congress in Banjjar.
The ruling BJP and Congress are contesting all 68 seats while the BSP has fielded candidates from 66 constituencies, followed by Himachal Lokhit Party (36), TMC-25, LPJ-18, CPI(M)-16, SP, NCP and Swabhiman Party 15 each, CPI-7 and Shiv Sena -4.
As many as 105 independents, including about one and a half dozen BJP and Congress rebels, have also entered the fray.