More than three hours after the counting of ballots commenced for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly Election, the BJP appears to be trailing. Moments ago, the Congress party overtook the BJP, leading in 35 seats — the halfway mark for the Assembly. The BJP, meanwhile, is leading in 26 seats. Independent candidates, meanwhile, are leading in five seats and could potentially play a crucial role in government formation In the first declaration of results, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has won from the Mandi seat by a margin of 24,300 votes. Thakur polled 33,256 votes (76.97%) of the votes, while his nearly rival, the Congress’s Chet Ram polled 8,956 votes (20.73%). In Sundernagar, BJP’s Rakesh Kumar has beaten Congress’s Sohan Lal by 8,125 votes. In five out of eight constituencies of Shimla district, the Congress is in the lead. Most exit polls had predicted a close contest, with the BJP holding a slight edge over the Congress. If the predictions prove to be correct and the BJP manages to narrow the gap with the Congress and return to power, the saffron party would have managed to buck the three-decade old tradition of voting out the incumbent government in the state. But the Congress has reiterated that Himachal sarkar (government) and not riwaz (tradition) would change — and they may be correct.