Tuesday, February 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Sonia’s HP visit cancelled
Weather plays spoilsport
Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 17
The election rallies of AICC President Sonia Gandhi at Kulu and Balh, scheduled to be held tomorrow, have been cancelled due to bad weather.

Senior Congress leader R.K. Dhawan said that a heavy rainfall continued to lash the Kulu and Mandi region and as such it was not possible to hold the scheduled meetings.

Meanwhile, rain and snow in parts of Himachal Pradesh dampened electioneering for the February 26 Assembly elections.

BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu and General Secretary Pramod Mahajan, were to address a press conference in the city, but it had to be cancelled. Mr Naidu apparently wanted to release the documents against the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, which were later released by senior leader Madan Lal Khurana. Higher areas of Shimla district received rain, bringing physical movement of workers the Congress and the BJP to a halt.

The rain occurred a day before All-India Congress Committee President Sonia Gandhi was to address party rallies, which were being keenly awaited by Congressmen and the people of the state alike. Though the movement of workers was hampered, party activists started contacting people through telephones.

The BJP converted the adversity into opportunity, calling its leaders, including Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Mr Khurana to review the campaigning and assess the party position.

SMS messages came handy at a time when the movement of party workers was hampered. Certain workers were ruing the date for the election, saying the campaigning had been affected by the rain at a time when the electioneering had to reach its peak.

Political parties had to arrange for extra vehicles to ferry workers to carry on house-to-house campaigning. Door-to-door campaigning was also affected.

NEW DELHI: Inclement weather in Himachal Pradesh have forced the Congress and the BJP to redraw tour programmes of their top leaders.

BJP President Venkiah Naidu, who was to reach Shimla on Monday to chair a meeting of party leaders on the election strategy, could not leave the Capital due to rough weather conditions.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is scheduled to campaign for three days beginning Tuesday, may travel by road.


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