The other state which will go to the polls this year, Gujarat, will be a tough battle for the Congress and hence, it is eyeing to repeat its Uttarakhand feat in Himachal. In the Uttarakhand assembly elections held earlier this year, the Congress wrested the power back from the BJP, although by a whisker of a difference. Repeating such a feat will boost the party's low morale ahead of the more crucial elections coming up in the next two years.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi will kick start a high-voltage campaign in Himachal on Monday with a public rally in Mandi and it will be followed by another in Kangra. AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi is set to join the campaign from the next week and is expected to address about five-six rallies. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will also address a few rallies, the dates and venues were although not decided.
Former Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, the Congress's biggest hope in the state despite the recent corruption charges, has already embarked on campaign tours in the state. For Singh, the upcoming election is an opportunity to get himself freed of all corruption charges and restore his voters' faith.
The 82-year-old leader, who has become the CM of the state five times, said all allegations levelled against him were baseless and the BJP was responsible for orchestrating them to malign his image. He accused current BJP CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, his son Anurag and Arun Jaitley of conspiring against him.
The Congress will bank on several land scam charges against Dhumal, development issues and ignorance meted out to the farmers as its main weapons against the BJP government in the state. Besides, it will emphasise on the UPA government's flagship programmes and the recent decision of the Cabinet to allow 'One-ran-kone-pension for ex-servicemen', which has been a sensitive issue in the past few polls in Himachal.
Both Congress and BJP leaderships are, however, not sure how the redrawn constituencies might influence the outcome of this year's election. The constituencies underwent delimitation after a gap of over three decades.