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HP gears up for Assembly polls

Written by: Staff

Shimla, Oct 26: Political activity is gaining momentum in Himachal Pradesh with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) Chief K Sudershan touring the Kangra district of the state, 18 months ahead of Assembly elections.

While Ms Gandhi is scheduled to address a rally at Dharamshala on October 30, the RSS chief will be holding party meetings for a week starting today in the same region.

State Congress spokesman Kuldeep Rathore had earlier said Ms Gandhi's rally would be the launching of the party's election campaign.

Considering the fact that Kangra district has 16 Assembly constituencies in the 68-member House, both the Congress and the BJP, are trying to gain advantage over each other and are vying for these all seats.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president Viplove Thakur have started touring the Kangra district.

Mr Singh was recently in the district to oversee arrangements for Ms Gandhi's rally at Dharamshala on October 30.

The Congress party with 12 Assembly seats from the district will be trying hard to maintain its lead over the opposition. The BJP is also eyeing these 16 seats to return to power.

However, fissures within the parties are already taking its toll and political analysts say it would not be clear till the last moment which party was likely to gain upper hand in the next assembly polls.

While Congress Shahpur MLA, Vijai Singh Mankotia, has been raising the issue of the district being ignored by the Virbhadra Singh Government, the BJP seems to be split with several state leaders staking claim over the state leadership. The Chief Minister has not only to fight the anti-incumbency factor but has to take on Mr Mankotia.

Sources within the BJP say factionalism in the party has been taken care of by the central leadership as powers have been delegated within the respective state leaders.

While Mr Shanta Kumar has been given the charge of Kangra, Chamba and Mandi, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal has been asked to look after the districts of Una, Bilaspur and Hamirpur.

State BJP Chief Suresh Bhardwaj has been given the charge of Solan, Shimla and Sirmour districts and also other districts of the state.

''The opposition BJP seems to be on a weak ground with plenty of infighting within it,'' a senior Congress leader, requesting anonymity, told UNI here.


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