Shimla, Dec 18 (IANS) The BJP was set to wrest power in Himachal Pradesh, winning 21 seats and leading in more than 15 as counting progressed in the state Assembly elections. However, the state party chief faced a humiliating defeat in his constituency, while BJP Chief Ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal is trailing with a huge margin.
The ruling Congress has managed to win 10 seats so far, with its Chief Ministerial candidate and sitting incumbent Virbhadra Singh winning with a handsome margin from Arki.
The Bharatiya Janata Party needs 35 seats to control the Himachal Assembly.
His son Vikramaditya Singh also marked his maiden victory in the assembly with a comfortable margin from Shimla (Rural), the seat his father was earlier representing.
The BJP's state chief Satpal Satti faced a humiliating defeat in Una from the Congress' Satpal Singh Razda.
BJP Chief Ministerial candidate Dhumal was trailing with a huge margin against his close rival Rajinder Rana of the Congress from Sujanpur.
Dhumal's close confidants Ravinder Ravi, Gulab Singh and Randhir Sharma, all sitting legislators, and Tejwant Negi, lost.
Congress cabinet ministers Sudhir Sharma, Thakur Singh and Prakash Chaudhary faced defeat from the BJP.
Chaudhary lost from Balh in Mandi district with a big margin. BJP's Inder Singh Gandhi won this seat.
Likewise, BJP's Ravindra Dhiman defeated Congress' sitting legislator Yadvinder Goma from Jaisinghpur and Kishori Lal of the BJP defeated Bansi Lal of the Congress from Anni seat.
BJP's sitting legislator Suresh Bhardwaj retained his Shimla seat, defeating Congress' Harbhajan Bhajji.
Anil Sharma, who resigned from the government and the ruling Congress and joined the opposition BJP just ahead of the polls along with his father and former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram, retained his Mandi seat.
Independent Hoshiar Singh dealt a humiliating defeat to BJP and Congress heavyweights Ravinder Ravi and Viplove Thakur, respectively, in Dehra.
Congress' sitting legislator Anirudh Singh retained his Kasumpti seat by defeating BJP's Vijay Jyoti Sain. Both belong to the royal families.
CPI-M's Rakesh Singha defeated his near rival Rakesh Verma of the BJP from Theog.
State BJP spokesperson Ganesh Dutt told IANS: "We have crossed the half-way mark. This clearly indicates we are going to form the government in the state."
A total of 337 candidates contested the November 9 election. A total of 37,83,580 people voted in the hill state -- a record 75.28 per cent polling.
The Congress and the BJP contested in all the 68 constituencies. Most exit polls had predicted the BJP's return to power with a majority.
The state has alternately elected Congress and BJP since 1985. In 2012, the Congress won 36 seats and the BJP 26. Independents bagged six seats.