Thursday, February 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Punjab politicians to battle it out in HP
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
Though Assembly elections are being held in Himachal Pradesh, but politicians of all hues from Punjab will be playing a dominating role in these elections directly or indirectly. In fact, in a way politicians from Punjab will be fighting their battles through Himachal elections.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has already jumped into the election arena of Himachal Pradesh. The same is true for Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, President of the Punjab unit of the BJP. Recently, both Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Rinwa addressed election meetings in Hamirpur and Shimla, respectively. The Leader of the Opposition in Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, is also expected to campaign for the BJP candidates as it has a substantial Sikh population.

Capt Amarinder Singh has already put some ministers on duty to supervise the election campaign of the Congress party that is trying hard to dethrone the Dhumal government. Informed sources said that Capt Amarinder Singh, who created a sort of storm in the placid political waters of the Himachal Pradesh recently by levelling serious allegations of corruption against the Dhumal government, would start actively campaigning in that state from February 11.

The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, has already decided to sue Capt Amarinder Singh in this connection.

To deny political space to the BJP to make Hindutva an issue in Himachal Pradesh like Gujarat, the Congress is desperate to highlight the corruption to the level that it becomes automatically a main issue in that state. “ It is our strategy to put the BJP government on the defence in the very beginning of the election campaign and not to allow it to have a headstart in the campaigning”, said a Congress party strategist. “ It is true that the dominating role in the campaign would be played by Capt Amarinder Singh but Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President of the AICC, would be the main campaigner”, he added.

Capt Amarinder Singh will provide active assistance to mount an incisive advertisement campaign packed with red-hot stuff against the BJP government in that state. Already matter for such advertisements has been finalised and it is under preparation here under the guidance of Capt Amarinder Singh. The advertisement campaign will be on the same pattern that was adopted in case of the Badal government by Capt Amarinder Singh in the Punjab Assembly elections.

On the other hand, the Punjab unit of the BJP is preparing to neutralise what it describes as the Capt Amarinder Singh effect in Himachal Pradesh. It will be following a two-pronged strategy. It will be consistently needling the Capt Amarinder Singh’s government by launching various agitations, dharnas and issuing embarrassing statements. First such dharna will be held on February 15 here.Back

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