With the BJP firing its campaign full throttle and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) breathing down its neck, the Himachal Congress is now aiming to cash in on former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s legacy to not just stay on course for the year-end elections but to cover up cracks in its state unit.
The Himachal unit of Congress on Thursday turned the 89th birth anniversary of the late Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh into a show of unity, with leaders attending the event at the party headquarters in Shimla. The party had announced that it was celebrating the day as ‘Vikas Diwas’, trying to capitalise on the event for kicking off its campaign. It held functions in all 72 blocks to pay tributes to its leader. The function at the party office was held in the presence of Virbhadra’s wife Pratibha Singh and all senior leaders including Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri and Chairman of the Campaign Committee Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.
Rajeev Shukla, Rajya Sabha MP and in charge of party affairs in Himachal, has been holding several meetings with senior party leaders, MLAs, office-bearers and heads of all frontal organisations to gear up the party for the Assembly elections due later this year. The party, sensing that it was lagging behind in carrying out a full-fledged campaign, is now trying to catch up with the BJP and AAP.
While the BJP has unleashed its potent political campaign with PM Modi already conducting a few rallies in the state, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal along with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann have been holding roadshows to galvanise its party cadre. “We seem to be slowly getting off the mark. And that’s why perhaps rooting to the legacy of our stalwart and former CM could energise the cadre,” admitted a Congress leader.
The Congress is planning to rake up the issue of unemployment, price rise and farmers’ interest. It will also try to showcase how during the Virbhadra Singh’s government the state had made progress on the development front. The Congress high command had recently made the former CM’s wife Pratibha Singh the state unit chief.