As Himachal Pradesh has not returned any incumbent government to power in nearly four decades, early trends of ballot count of the first two hours on Thursday indicated 'see-sawing' trends with both the ruling BJP and the main Opposition Congress in the 68-member Assembly were neck and neck.
Trends at around 10.15 a.m. showed that the Congress was leading in 31 seats with the BJP in an equal number. Four independents were also leading from their respective constituencies.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, 57, was leading in his stronghold Seraj in the Mandi district. Likewise, Congress prominent leaders Mukesh Agnihotri, 60, and Sukhvinder Sukhu, 58, were leading from Haroli and Nadaun seats respectively.
As most exit poll surveys have predicted a tight contest between the incumbent BJP and the opposition Congress, with the former holding a slight edge, the results will decide the fate of many senior leaders of both parties.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is in the fray for the first time in the Assembly polls, has been missing from the state with its leaders focusing on strengthening its vote bank in Gujarat.
Despite AAP's presence, the political scenario in the state seems so far largely bipolar -- a tug-of-war between the two conventional archrivals -- the Congress and the saffron party.
Sensing a neck-and-neck contest between the BJP and the Congress, rebels, who had broken ties with the mainstream parties, have started holding 'in-door' parleys with a belief that in politics there is no permanent enemy or friend.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main Opposition Congress have also begun an exercise to keep its numbers in 'order' in case of a hung House.
Insiders told IANS that leaders of both parties were trying to sink their differences with the party rebels, whose numbers are nearly 20, to improve the party's prospects.
The fear of the exodus of lawmakers from Congress was high. (KB/IANS)