SHIMLA: The high-octane campaign for Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections marked by acrimonious exchanges between the two contenders for power–the state’s ruling Congress and main opposition BJP–ended today.
Though the BJP announced Prem Kumar Dhumal as its chief ministerial face just a week ago, the saffron party’s campaign was virtually spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who lacerated the Congress over corruption, while Rahul Gandhi mounted a spirited counteroffensive, targeting the Centre over note ban and the GST.
BJP president and its master strategist Amit Shah, besides a host of Union ministers and top leaders from both sides criss-crossed the state.
The 73-year-old Dhumal, a two-term Chief Minister, is seeking to thwart the Congress’s chief ministerial candidate Virbhadra Singh’s record seventh shot at power.
Singh, 83, the tallest Congress leader in the State, is facing graft cases and is locked in a bitter feud with State Congress chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu whose ouster he sought but failed to ensure ahead of the elections.
The old Congress warhorse also has to contend with the possible anti-incumbency.
Internal squabble may cast a shadow on the Congress’s chances of storming back to power despite the party reposing faith in Singh to bail it out at a time when it has been facing a string of electoral reverses.
The BJP organised 197 rallies while Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh alone addressed 200 meetings across the State for the Congress during the past two and a half months. (AGENCIES)