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Himachal ready to vote, campaign of choppers comes to an end

The BJP had engaged nearly a dozen choppers for its star campaigners while the fund-starved Congress could arrange only four.

HimachalPradeshElection2017 Updated: Nov 07, 2017 22:03 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Himachal Pradesh Assembly election 2017,Himachal assembly polls 2017,Prem Kumar Dhumal
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh at a campaign rally in Arki, Shimla.(HT Photo)

The high decibel campaign for the 68 assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh that ended on Tuesday could be dubbed the election of choppers.

The hills resonated with sounds of choppers as the bigwigs crisscrossed the state. The BJP had engaged nearly a dozen choppers for its star campaigners while the fund-starved Congress could arrange only four.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is trying to ride the momentum that it has had in recent years and the anti-incumbency factor to beat the ruling Congress party. The assembly elections have seen unusually belligerent campaigning as top leaders of both parties focused their attention on the hill state.

On the last day of the campaign allegations and counter allegation flew thick and fast. Union home minister Rajnath Singh addressed public meetings at Chamba and Hamirpur.

Minister of textiles Smriti Irani, Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Rawat and chief minister ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal turned out for the BJP, while for the Congress, chief minister Virbhadra Singh and Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh were lead campaigners on the last day.

“The use of money power in Himachal vitiated the atmosphere and has given birth to new culture but anyhow this kind of practice will have no benefit to BJP,” Virbhadra Singh said in Arki’s Kunihar.

Rajnath Singh held a press conference in Shimla in which he repeated a line taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier, that the Congress has conceded defeat in the state.

Amid former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s allegation made late Monday that demonetisation had clogged the Indian economy, Singh said more such steps would be taken if required for the betterment of the country. “Such reformative steps give short term pain while long term gain,” the home minister said.

All India Congress committee spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the Modi government has betrayed ex-servicemen.

“Soldiers had been protesting at Jantar Mantar for 870 days demanding OROP. Protesting ex-servicemen have returned over 32,000 war medals,” Surjewala said, flanked by Major General (Retd) Satbir Singh and other ex-servicemen.

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh extolled the achievements of the Virbhadra government at rallies in Pachchhad and Haroli, calling Virbhadra Singh a leader “who had given his entire life to the welfare of the state’s people.”

The 337 candidates in fray got only 12 days to campaign after the nomination, leading to intense rallies. The BJP held 203 rallies as compared to the Congress’s 113.

For the ruling party, chief minister Virbhadra Singh alone held 87 public meetings.

For the BJP, central leaders — Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah, union ministers JP Nadda, Rajnath Singh, Thavar Chand Gehlot, and chief ministers Adityanath Yogi and Trivendra Singh Rawat campaigned aggressively across the state.

For Congress, its vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Anand Sharma and Amarinder Singh were main speakers.

First Published: Nov 07, 2017 22:02 IST