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Poll heat rises in Shimla hills


The ‘Queen of Hill stations’ Shimla now is filled with anxious air as Lok Sabha polls enter the last leg with arch- rivals Congress and BJP locked in a pitched battle here

shimlaShimla: Normally full of revelers escaping from the searing summer heat elsewhere at this time of the year, the ‘Queen of Hill stations’ Shimla now is filled with anxious air as Lok Sabha polls enter the last leg with arch- rivals Congress and BJP locked in a pitched battle here.

In a multi-cornered fight, sitting MP Virender Kashyap of BJP riding on the so-called ‘Modi wave’ is confident of defending the seat from six opponents. Congress’ Mohan Lal Brakta, Aam Aadmi Party’s Subhash Chander and Gurnam Singh Koli of Bahujan Samaj Party are among those vying for this seat, a well-known tourist hub.

The constituency, which has a total of 11,34,628 electors out of which about 53 per cent per cent are male, goes to polls on May 7 alongwith three other constituencies in Himachal Pradesh.

“Modi wave is there, as was evident in all the three rallies he addressed in Himachal Pradesh. People came from all over the state. He has special affection for the state as he was the state party in-charge for eight years and he knows workers personally,” Kashyap said.

The 63-year old Kashyap, who in 2009 won this seat reserved for SCs by a margin of about 27,000 votes, said people would vote in favor of Modi as they were tired of ‘price rise, corruption and a weak central government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh”.

“All our workers are working with great enthusiasm to help Modi become Prime Minister of the country,” he added.

On the other hand, Congress is looking to regain its traditional stronghold, which it ceded to the rival in 2009.

Congress candidate Mohan Lal Brakta, a sitting MLA from Rohru and a loyalist of state Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, rubbishes Kashyap’s claims of support for Modi.

“There is no Modi wave here. And if at all there is any influence of Modi, it is only limited to Gujarat and even of that I am not sure (if it is there). There is Raja Virbhadra Singh, Sonia-Rahul Gandhi and Congress-wave here. So we are confident of winning the seat by a big margin,” Brakta, 48, claims.

The development work which the Congress has done in the state as well as Centre is there for all to see, he added.

The Shimla seat, comprising 17 assembly constituencies, has been a Congress stronghold traditionally. Since 1967, the party has won the seat nine times, while BJP has only won it once, when Kashyap emerged victorious in 2009.

The other winners from the constituency include Balak Ram of Bharatiya Lok Dal in 1977 and Dhani Ram Shandil, who won it in 1999 as a Himachal Vikas Congress candidate and again in 2004 as a Congress representative.

Looking to spoil the party of the Congress and the BJP is new entrant Aam Aadmi Party, with its now familiar anti-corruption plank. The party’s candidate Subhash Chander, a retired Public Works Department Executive Engineer and also a former trade union leader, accused the two main parties of dynasty-dominated politics.

“Both Congress and BJP leaders are only looking to establish their own families. They are just worried about their sons, brothers and wives and how to establish them. It is high time that educated people came forward in politics,” Chander, 58, said.

Raising the pitch against graft, he alleged: “Even the Chief Minister is facing corruption charges and the BJP is only concerned about IPL and ignoring BPL (below poverty line) families.

“Both parties have been plundering the state one after the other in a systematic manner. Congress and BJP represent sides of a same coin,” he further claimed.


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