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Campaigning ends in Himachal with PM Modi, Priyanka banking on ‘second home’ tag

Campaigning ends in Himachal with PM Modi, Priyanka banking on 'second home' tag

Shimla, May 30 (SocialNews.XYZ) The high-decibel electioneering in the hills of Himachal Pradesh, which will see polling for four parliamentary seats and simultaneous bypolls for six assembly constituencies on June 1, ended on Thursday with the political bigwigs from the traditional archrivals -- the Congress and the BJP -- making last-minute efforts to woo the 57 lakh electorate.

The four parliamentary seats -- Mandi, Hamirpur, Kangra and Shimla -- have become a high-stakes battle for the BJP’s star campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi. Both consider Himachal Pradesh their second home.


While Prime Minister Modi does not miss an opportunity to remind the people of the years he spent here when he was appointed the BJP’s in-charge of the state in 1995, travelling to every nook and corner, Priyanka Gandhi tried to strike an emotional chord by saying the hill state is her “home” as her cottage is located in Charabra, on the outskirts of Shimla.

During campaigning, she took digs at Modi, accusing him of abandoning the people when disaster struck owing to heavy rain in 2023, despite his claims of considering Himachal “to be his home”.

However, PM Modi in both his big rallies in Nahan and Mandi towns last week focussed on a stronger India with promises of more development of the state in his third term.

To woo the families of the defence personnel and ex-servicemen, a major vote bank in the state, the PM mentioned that the implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme, a long-standing demand of military personnel, was done under his leadership.

Also the Prime Minister’s reference to the construction of the Ram Temple was a bid to woo voters in the prominent Hindu state.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi while campaigning appealed to the people to vote for all the four Congress Lok Sabha candidates, while promising them that he and his sister Priyanka Gandhi will “be the voice” of the hill state in the national capital.

“Priyanka and I are your soldiers in Delhi, and we will raise the voice of Himachal Pradesh in the capital,” he said at a public meeting in Nahan in Sirmaur district.

The brother-sister duo time and again raked up the issue of recruitment of Agniveers in the Indian Army.

Rahul Gandhi in one of the rallies said “if the Opposition’s INDIA bloc comes to power in the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections, it will dispose off the Agniveer scheme into the dustbin”.

Himachal is home to a large number of people serving in the armed forces. As per official figures, there are 1.29 lakh ex-servicemen residing in the state, besides 80,000 serving in the armed forces. Their highest concentration is in Kangra, Hamirpur, Mandi and Una districts.

Like the 2022 assembly poll, Priyanka is holding the fort for campaigning in place of her brother.

Prominent other leaders who campaigned in the state were BJP national president J.P. Nadda, Union ministers Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari and S. Jaishankar, former Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

From the Congress, its national president Mallikarjun Kharge, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda and Shashi Tharoor addressed rallies.

Appealing to vote for the BJP at an election meeting in Kullu district, Gadkari said “this election is not about the future of the Congress and the BJP but it is about the future of the country and its people”.

He said the public has to decide which party and which leader can work for their future.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the then state's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retained all four Lok Sabha seats as its candidates won by record margins.

Hamirpur’s sitting MP Anurag Thakur, Kangra candidate Kishan Kapoor, Shimla candidate Suresh Kashyap and Mandi's sitting MP Ram Swaroop Sharma had won, defeating their Congress rivals.

This time, the BJP fielded Union Minister Thakur again from Hamirpur and Kashyap from Shimla.

In the Mandi parliamentary constituency, the battleground shifts between “royalty” and “reel”, as Congress legislator Vikramaditya Singh, the scion of the erstwhile royal family, challenges Bollywood's queen, Kangana Ranaut, of the BJP.

The ruling Congress has fielded its veteran and four-time Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma in his new battleground Kangra, the largest Lok Sabha constituency in terms of voters, against Rajiv Bhardwaj of the BJP, which ignored the sitting MP, Kishan Kapoor.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has given tickets to all six Congress rebels, who had supported it in the Rajya Sabha elections, for the Assembly bypolls.

The candidates are Sudhir Sharma from Dharamsala, Rajinder Rana from Sujanpur, Ravi Thakur from Lahaul-Spiti, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal from Barsar, Chaitanya Sharma from Gagret and Devender Bhutto from Kutlehar.

These seats fell vacant due to the disqualification of the legislators for defying the party whip while passing the state budget. Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu has said he was not afraid of “conspiracies” being hatched against him. He accused the BJP of attempting to destabilise the elected government.

With the electorate, in the Lok Sabha polls, traditionally favouring the party at the helm in the state, these elections are being seen as a referendum on Himachal Pradesh’s 17-month-old Congress government.

The Congress wrested the state from the BJP in December 2022, winning 40 seats in the 68-member House, while the BJP was reduced to 25.

Source: IANS

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Campaigning ends in Himachal with PM Modi, Priyanka banking on 'second home' tag

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