In Hi­machal’s heights, both Cong & BJP walk the tight-rope

The Hindu Business Line - - POLITICS -

In elec­tions over the last 25 years, Hi­machal Pradesh has pro­vided a chance to ei­ther the Congress or the BJP. This time, the Congress has an­nounced that Chief Min­is­ter Virb­hadra Singh will con­tinue to be its face for the polls, while from the BJP, the names of for­mer chief min­is­ter Prem Kumar Dhu­mal, his son Anurag Thakur, and se­nior leader and Health Min­is­ter JP Nadda have come up.

The BJP will bet on the cor­rup­tion charges against Singh, and a cam­paign led by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi. Kick­ing off his party’s po­lit­i­cal cam­paign re­cently, Modi said the en­tire Congress lead­er­ship is out on bail for var­i­ous cor­rup­tion charges. “The en­tire fam­ily of the Chief Min­is­ter is fac­ing cor­rup­tion charges and is on bail and when I asked some Congress lead­ers as to why the Chief Min­is­ter is not be­ing re­placed, they said that how can the party take ac­tion when the en­tire top lead­er­ship is it­self on bail.”

The Congress, mean­while, has been say­ing that var­i­ous de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives of the Virb­hadra gov­ern­ment will help the party get an­other term in of­fice.

The Chief Min­is­ter, re­spond­ing to the an­nounce­ment of poll dates, said the Congress was aware of BJP’s strengths and weak­nesses. “They are re­ly­ing on Modi. We are self-re­liant and the fo­cus is on de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

How­ever, the party is wor­ried about the turf war be­tween Virb­hadra and the State Congress chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, whose re­moval the CM has been de­mand­ing. Congress Vice-Pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi had held con­sul­ta­tions with both lead­ers to sort out the dif­fer­ences.

Mean­while, the Congress had chal­lenged the BJP to come up with a face for the CM’s post. The Congress be­lieves it will be dif­fi­cult for the BJP to an­chor its cam­paign on a sin­gle State leader as it may rake up or­gan­i­sa­tional is­sues in the saf­fron party.

The Congress is also try­ing fo­cus on the anti-in­cum­bency against the Cen­tre. The party is us­ing the eco­nomic slow­down, the cri­sis in the agri­cul­ture and tourism sec­tors to tar­get the BJP. They also al­lege that the Cen­tre de­layed many de­vel­op­ment projects an­nounced by the erst­while UPA gov­ern­ment to the State.

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