iconimg Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Punkaj Bhaartiya, Hindustan Times
Hamirpur, September 19, 2013
With the national political scene simmering for the next Lok Sabha elections, election fever has gripped Hamirpur too. Leaders and workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress Party have fanned out in villages to woe the electors. While the BJP has already announced the candidature of Anurag Thakur for the third successive time for the Hamirpur parliamentary seat, the Congress is still searching a suitable candidate, who can be a game changer. Though the Congress had tried its best to find a candidate at national and state level, who could give a tough fight to Thakur. However, the party is yet to take the final decision in this regard.

The party would announce the name of the candidate in November, said Chander Kumar Chaudhry, the party incharge for the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat. “We will not spare any effort to win the Hamirpur seat,” he told Hindustan Times here on Monday night.

Taking a lesson from his ouster from power, former Himachal chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal have already started campaigning for the party, though, Congress leaders led by Sunil Sharma, general secretary of the party state unit, followed the BJP only two months back.

Dhumal has been holding public meetings and making personal contacts with the masses of the district. In the meantime, he has been trying to woe the electorates in effort to retain the Hamirpur seat. Since his son Anuarg Thakur will be contesting from the constituency, Dhumal's prestige is at the stake too.

Dhumal has started canvassing various parts of the Sujanpur assembly segment of the district, following the decision of Sujanpur MLA Rajendra Rana, an independent candidate, to become the associate member of the Congress party and to launch a pro-Congress campaign in the district.

Rana has been touring various parts of the Hamirpur and Sujanpur assembly segments to make his presence felt.

Rana can be a contender for the Congress party ticket from Hamirpur seat, as a section of the party considers him the strongest bet for the seat.

Unfazed by Rana's joining hands with the Congress, Dhumal has brought many recently retired servicemen of the district into the BJP's fold. He claimed that the party was united in the district and would win the Hamirpur seat with more than previous margins.

He said the people of the district were highly upset with the Congress for its anti-Hamirpur policies and would teach the Congress a teething lesson in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Meanwhile, the BJP has been holding training camps for the party workers in the district. The party has already conducted such camps in Hamirpur, Badsar and Nadaun mandals to train workers for the elections.

While leaders of both the national parties are in election mode much ahead of the announcement of the dates, the common man is upset with the rising prices of various essential commodities, growing unemployment and worsening of law and order situation in various parts of the state in general and in Hamirpur district in particular. The common man feels that both the parties have done nothing for their welfare and have only minted money for themselves.

Ramesh Chand of Hamirpur, a daily paid worker having a family of six, feels that common man's life has become a hell amid rising prices and growing unemployment in the state: “I'm facing worst situation of my life due to exorbitantly high prices of food stuffs and non availability of these items at fair price shops.” He says that he will definitely cast his vote, but not ready to disclose his intentions.

Sudesh Kumari, a retired government employee, said the condition of retired persons as well as working people was pathetic, and there were apprehensions that the government employees would not get their salaries on time in coming six months due to paucity of funds with the state exchequer. She blasted both Congress and BJP leaders for increasing their pensions at the cost of the poor, leaving them behind to live in poverty.

Only time will tell the result of the leaders' efforts, but one thing is sure that the people of Himachal, especially Hamirpur, are all set to teach a teething lesson to the politicians in days to come once the dates for the Lok Sabha elections are announced.