Soldiers in hill states are not only known for their valour but also form a major chunk of vote bank, around 5 per cent of the total electorate.
For the first time it seems that community is now catching fancy of two political parties that form governments in the state.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, various political parties in the hill state are out to woo soldiers, the vote bank that could be decisive,particularly in lower parts of the hill state.
Scattered throughout the state, there number may seems to negligible in many parts but in Kangra and Hamirpur parliamentary constituencies they could be deciding factor in the win or defeat of a candidate.
There are nearly 1.4 lakh ex-servicemen in the state while records put number of serving soldiers at 1.3 lakh.
Kangra district has the highest number of serving soldiers, while there are nearly 55,000 ex-servicemen here. Hamirpur follows the next with 25,000 soldiers and Mandi got 15,000 soldiers. Una and Bilaspur districts comprise nearly 23,000 ex-servicemen. Besides, there are 1.77 lakh war widows in the state.
The data available with the Sainik Welfare Board put number of dependents both serving and retired at nearly 8 lakh.
With many of the issues related to soldiers are pending with centre and state government, the swing of these voters will be largely depend upon the manifestos of the main political party.
With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning to invite soldiers at its February 16 rally to be addressed by its prime ministerial candidate Narinder Modi at Sujanpur in Hamirpur district, the Congress too is making all efforts to woo them as each seat is likely to matter at the national level this time.
While BJP is expecting that over 50,000 retired soldiers would participate in the rally as its ex-servicemen cell is working day and night, drawing strategies to mobilize former defence personnel, the Congress too has started doling out sops on them.
Recently the Himachal Pradesh cabinet decided to grant family pensions to the families of the military pensioners in addition to the family pension admissible from the army side.
Earlier, chief minister Virbhadra Singh, while speaking in function of ex- servicemen held in Kangra, had promised to take up the issue of one-rank one-pension scheme for ex-servicemen with the centre and the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
"I will make efforts that the union government implements the one-rank one-pension scheme before the code of conduct for the Parliamentary elections is announced," he had said besides assuring them to take up the issue of change in norms of recruitment quota with the central government.
On the other hand Modi's speech will be watched on the grounds that whether he makes any promises for the benefits of the ex-servicemen.