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