As Himachal Pradesh gears up for the assembly elections on November 9, the political parties are going all out to woo the voters.
Before the campaign ends on November 7, the BJP is in mission mode to win the state. "Ab ki baar Sujanpur se sarkaar" and "Ab ki baar 60 kay paar" are some of the hoardings that greet people in Sujanpur, where BJP's 73-year-old Prem Kumar Dhumal, a two-time former chief minister of the BJP, is contesting against his old protege-turned-bete noir Rajinder Rana of the Congress.
While Mr Dhumal wields considerable clout in the state, Mr Rana too is no pushover. Mr Rana, who is fighting the battle in his home turf, had fought the 2012 election as an Independent and defeated his Congress rival Anita Verma with a big margin of over 14,000 votes. "Ek Taraf Naam, Doosri Taraf Kaam" as his poll plank this year.
"My work speaks for myself, a big name (Dhumal) does not matter. I am available to my constituents 24x7 and they know that," Mr Rana, who once considered Mr Dhumal as his political guru, says.
By Mr Dhumal's side, stand his sons. While his younger son, Arun Dhumal is steering his campaign, his elder son and Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur too is campaigning aggressively for his father. Helping Mr Thakur strategise and plan schedules for the campaign is his aide Anupam Lakhanpal.
The supporters of the BJP are of the opinion that pitting Mr Dhumal as the chief ministerial candidate has brightened the prospects of the party to come to power.
With 'Mission 60 plus', BJP is eyeing 60 seats in the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly and Mr Dhumal feels that to realise accelerated development in the state, "a double engine (Modi government at the Centre and the BJP government in state) is needed."
Optimism is flowing equally on Mr Rana's side who is banking on the works undertaken by him. "For the past 15 years, I have been among the people here through thick and thin. I got an SDM office opened here and a mini secretariat is coming up."
"An Industrial Training Institute, vegetable market, civil hospital, improved road network in villages and urban areas of the constituency were possible as I worked hard to ensure development, which is my poll plank," said Mr Rana.
When Mr Dhumal was asked about the delay in naming him as the chief ministerial candidate by the BJP, he said that "appropriate decision was taken at an appropriate time." He recalled that during 1998 elections, when he first came to power as the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, his name was announced just three days before the polls.
(With Inputs From PTI)
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