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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

Allegations fly thick and fast, real issues buried in din

Gaurav Bisht, Hindustan Times  Shimla, June 13, 2013
First Published: 23:03 IST(13/6/2013) | Last Updated: 23:05 IST(13/6/2013)

With stakes high for both ruling Congress and the opposition BJP, allegations are flying thick and fast in the byelection to the Mandi seat.

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With wife Pratibha Singh in the fray, chief minister Virbhadra Singh's prestige is at stake, while for young BJP candidate Jairam Thakur its fight for the future.

As electioneering is reaching the crescendo, the campaigning is getting murkier as rival parties have unleashed a fresh round of offensive against each other, even as the real issues have got buried in increasing din.

Rather than seeking votes on the developmental issues, leaders from both sides - Congress and BJP - are more focused on personalised attacks.

Chief minister Virbhadra Singh is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that his wife wins hands down in the elections. Virbhadra Singh has been accusing his predecessor - Prem Kumar Dhumal - for snooping on him and other leaders of Congress during his regime.
Virbhadra Singh blames the previous government for compromising with state's interest. Virbhadra is critical of Dhumal regime as he blames it for scams and giving benefits to few individuals.

Dhumal's ties with Jalandhar are also a tool of Congress propaganda. Congress leaders are terming two-time Dhumal as an “outsider”.

The Congress campaign does not stop here. The ruling party further accuses Dhumal of promoting nepotism.

On the other side, BJP too has sharpened attack on the chief minister and his wife.

Dhumal is questioning as to why Virbhadra set on fire the Shimla gazetteers which contained family records of his ancestors - the rulers of the erstwhile princely state - Rampur Bushar.

“What is the truth that he tried to hide by burning down the gazetteers,” said Dhumal in his address at an election meeting in Balh. Dhumal is also targeting Virbhadra over the poor fiscal health of the state. Dhumal alleges that the Centre was not responsive towards Virbhadra, who he says has lost out his clout in Delhi.

Besides, the BJP is ploughing failures of the United Progressive Alliance government to increase its poll prospects.

Former Lok Sabha member Pratibha Singh, who is contesting her third Lok Sabha elections from Mandi, castigates the previous BJP government for the bad state of affairs in the state.

Pratibha Singh accuses Dhumal of shifting his entire focus on his home district - Hamirpur.

Pratibha is also countering opposition party's charge of spending more MPLAD funds in Rampur Bushar when she was in the Lok Sabha from 2004 -2009.

BJP's nominee former rural and development minister Jairam Thakur said, “Why Virbhadra Singh was against appointing the chief minister from Mandi. Often chief minister Virbhadra Singh harps about his affinity towards people of Mandi. But he thinks otherwise when it comes to supporting a leader from Mandi to become chief minister.”

He said right from leaders like Karam Singh and Sukh Ram till Kaul Singh, Virbhadra Singh has always opposed Mandi leaders.

Leaders campaigning in Mandi seat take less pride to talk on the problems faced by tribals in Kinnaur, Bharmour and Lahaul and Spiti.

A majority of health institutions in tribal areas lack staff, while road conditions are bad in the area. There hardly comes any word on environment degradation in the tribal areas caused by the construction of multi-power projects in the area.


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