Saffron sees groundswell in Himachal

Saffron sees groundswell in Himachal

As campaigning in the poll-bound hill state ends on Tuesday, the BJP appears to have already won half the battle with its no-holds-barred belligerent campaign that saw the Congress on the back-foot.

The Congress campaign has arguably remained lack lustre. Its top leader Rahul Gandhi showed up only on Monday for campaigning with three back to back rallies, just 24 hours before it all culminates.

The saffron party, on the contrary. pulled out all stops. Top leaders, right from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Yogi Adityanath, Smriti Irani and a host of other senior leaders have all been addressing multiple rallies in HP much before the Congress switched gear. The BJP mocked the Congress for "running away from the polls."

Rhetoric notwithstanding, this election is poised for a tough contest between the two rival parties. A section of the voters is tight-lipped.

The vocal ones point towards the electoral history of the hill state where voters ignore the incumbents.

The saffron party has witnessed a groundswell post   announcement of two-term former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal as the chief ministerial candidate.

That was not what the party originally intended to do, which is why the BJP for a long period resisted making any such announcement only to make a course correction midway.The BJP made an exception for HP, perhaps, sensing a fight down to the wire.

Hinterland in the hill state offer a visual glimpse of the lotus swamping prominently as one traverses across the tiring terrain. Saffron flags and the BJP paraphernalia outnumber others in fray. It's a tough fight even in the Chief Minister's stronghold Shimla (Rural), which Virbhadra vacated for his son's debut poll. Virbhadra cites acute fund crunch saying even he has no money to contest with the ED and IT freezing his bank accounts.

The graft stain could cost the party dear. Voters claim anti-incumbency with
development far below expectations. But the Congress is banking on the silent voters, hoping they would vent their ire against BJP on a plethora of issues- from GST and demonetisation to failed promises.

These are issues on the ground but incidents like the rape and gruesome murder of a 16-year-old girl in Khotkhai spirals the anger against the incumbents.

Kasauli native Shailender Shamra, talking to DH, said while development has been limited to only few areas, good governance leaves a lot to be desired.

The Octogenarian CM is a one-man army and is fighting to the finish.

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