BJP, Cong face in­ter­nal strife in HP

Anti-in­cum­bency, graft charges trou­ble Con­gress as BJP tries to pa­per over fac­tion feud

DNA (Delhi) - - INDI - Anand Mishra cor­re­spon­dent@dnain­ Full re­port: dnain­

Af­ter mak­ing an impressive come­back in Ut­tarak­hand a few months ago, BJP is bet­ting big on an­other bor­der­ing hill state, Hi­machal Pradesh, which goes to polls on Novem­ber 9.

Like Ut­tarak­hand, Hi­machal, which has a his­tory of throw­ing out in­cum­bent gov­ern­ments ev­ery five years, is also un­der Con­gress rule, where its old war horse Chief Min­is­ter Virb­hadra Singh is bat­tling age and se­ri­ous cor­rup­tion charges.

Bar­ring Pun­jab, where it was a ju­nior part­ner in al­liance govern­ment headed by Akali Dal, BJP has done well in states, where ever it fought Con­gress as the main ri­val. BJP, which had won 26 of 68 seats in the state in last elec­tions, has fixed a tar­get of 50-plus seats this time.

While Con­gress is pitch­ing for ‘Mis­sion Re­peat’ in the 2017 As­sem­bly polls, BJP is con­fi­dent that the al­ter­nate man­date trend in the hill state will con­tinue. It has taken steps to ad­dress the is­sue of in­ter­nal dis­sen­sion, pla­cat­ing dif­fer­ent sec­tions. The saf­fron party’s con­fi­dence also stems from the fact that it had won all the four seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the state with sub­stan­tial mar­gins.

Con­gress, which has dis­missed the cases against Virb­hadra Singh as “po­lit­i­cal vendetta”, is hope­ful that the “po­lit­i­cal witch-hunt” pitch by Raja would help cre­ate a sym­pa­thy wave and could be counter pro­duc­tive for the BJP. The other side, how­ever, feels that the charges against the Chief Min­is­ter are too se­ri­ous to cre­ate any sym­pa­thy wave for him. But there are clear in­di­ca­tions that the BJP would not like to see the CM be­ing ar­rested be­fore the polls, which some ap­pre­hend, may boomerang.

Singh, 82, is a five-term CM, the ful­crum of Con­gress pol­i­tics in the state. He has many a time forced the Con­gress top lead­er­ship to give in to his de­mands in the af­fairs of Hi­machal Pradesh.

Hence Raja is once again the face of Con­gress for the as­sem­bly poll notwith­stand­ing his re­cent run in with state Con­gress chief Sukhvin­der Singh Sukhoo. BJP is in­vest­ing hugely in its Union Min­is­ter JP Nadda but has not de­clared any CM can­di­date.

Chief Min­is­ter Virb­hadra Singh

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