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Modi, Amit Shah to star BJP campaign in Himachal as party eyes UP, Uttarakhand Manipur and Goa replay

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@PMOIndia)

Barely two months to go for the state assembly poll, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur wants to complete his 75 rallies tally, at least one each in 68 assembly constituencies before Election Commission of India announces schedule for the elections in Himachal Pradesh. Thakur has already been named as the party’s Chief Ministerial face for the upcoming elections.

The rallies are designed to reach-out beneficiaries of central and state governments’ welfare schemes and highlight the state’s development during the past 75 years of Himachal Pradesh’s existence. The aim is to put the state on election mode, much in advance before the Congress.

This is all prelude to upcoming visits of party’s star leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home minister Amit Shah, during this month.

Party leaders handling pre-poll preparedness said the Chief Minister has already addressed more than 45 to 47 rallies in districts of Kangra, Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Una, Solan, Bilaspur, Sirmaur, Hamirpur and Chamba.

On September 9, Chief Minister will share stage with former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and union minister for information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur at Sujanpur ‘s historic ground.Infact, insiders say Dhumal himself proposed to Jai Ram Thakur for 75th year celebration of Pragatisheel Himachal Pradesh, and Amrit Mahatutsav.

This is how the ruling BJP is building-up its campaign in the state for its Mission Repeat 2022 –a semi-final to next Lok Sabha elections. For this party’s national President J.P. Nadda has already started holding discussions with key BJP leaders tasked with boosting its prospects in 144 Lok Sabha seats, considered difficult for it, in the 2024 polls.

Nadda, who hails from Himachal Pradesh is constantly monitoring the BJP preparedness in the run-up to the polls. He has already appointed Saudan Singh, BJP national vice-president as election in charge along with Jammu and Kashmir leader Devendra Singh Rana, as co-in charge.

Nadda has held three road shows in the state and addressed two rallies as part of Amrit Mahatutsav in Sirmaur district. He has very high stakes for home state.

BJP national organizing Secretary B.L .Santosh is also camping in the state and holding meetings with key-party leaders to review the election campaign management.

“Prime Minister Modi ji will be arriving the state for a landmark youth rally proposed for Mandi anytime during this month and thereafter two other rallies—one in Bilaspur to inaugurate AIIMS—a foundation for which was laid by Prime Minister ahead of 2017 assembly polls. The Prime Minister’s third programme  will be in Chamba—a border district. This is one of the country’s 117 aspirational districts identified by NITI Aayog”, says the Chief Minister .

Asked as what makes BJP confident of repeating the government in Himachal Pradesh? Thakur says “the elections in the state are being held under completely different conditions. The party has recently won elections in the four states and bucked the historic trend of the ruling party failing to form the government.

“It’s because of BJP’s strong leadership, a clear vision about development and welfare of those sections who had never been taken care of. Then, the state government implemented all welfare initiatives and created new landmarks in development. The people are voting us back to power. The people understand the benefits of double engine governments ”he asserts.

The BJP also finds itself at advantage over the Congress because the opposition has no face for leadership after the demise of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who used to fight single-handedly against the BJP and make his way to the power, after five years.

It’s because of this, the party is looking up to Virbhadra Singh’s family—his wife Pratibha Singh, MP and son Vikramaditya Singh to invoke sympathy. It was because of this, Pratibha Singh won the Mandi by-poll and got elected to the Parliament. She was recently made PCC president on the condition that she will not be fielded for the assembly elections.

But, the BJP also has some challenges to face in some constituencies of non-performing ministers and MLAs. Saudan Singh has made it very clear in the state core committee that the BJP doesn’t guarantee tickets to all its sitting MLAs and ministers. There will be new faces too .

As government 2.30 lakh employees also play a major role in the election, the BJP is currently facing their annoyance at the denial of Old Pension Scheme (OPS). The congress and AAP, in order to woo employees and pensioners have promised to implement the same. Apple growers are another lobby, which the BJP will be required to placate before the polls, feels a retired IAS officer, close to the BJP.

The deliberations are also underway within the party to carve –out a role for former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, 76, who commands a considerable influence in the state. Dhumal is keen to contest assembly polls from Sujanpur –a  constituency he lost in 2017 to the congress’s Rajendra Rana, his own protégé. His loyalists are lobbying for fielding Dhumal to vindicate  his position.

The two-time Chief Minister Dhumal was the party’s Chief Ministerial face for 2017. Five-time MLA Jai Ram Thakur was tipped for the post when Dhumal lost his assembly poll and missed an opportunity to lead the state for his aborted third term.

Rajya Sabha Member Indu Goswami, who a few days back, addressed a BJP mahila mandal sammelan at Sujanpur called for facilitating Dhumal’s splendid victory to beat all previous records of his popular electoral victories.

Also Read: With no CM’s face, jittery Congress trying to keep flock united for Himachal polls