With an eye on the next Vidhan sabha elections due in the state in the month of February 2008, the Congress is harping on the launch of the National rural employment guarantee programme in the state along with other parts of India to garner the support of the people.
The Congress is facing the wrath of the common man due to rising prices , worsening of law and order in the state and failure of the state government to create job avenues for the educated but un-employed youth. These persons showed their anger during a recent bye election to Hamirpur Lok sabha seat in which the Congress lost badly in hands of the BJP stalwart, Prem Kumar Dhumal by 80,059 votes.
This scheme envisioned by the UPA Government under the leadership of Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, was a key promise in the party election manifesto and an element of its common Minimum programme was initially launched in most backward 200 districts of the states in February, 2006 and following year extended to 130 more districts which henceforth would be covering every eligible person under the 100 days assured wage employment in a financial year to carry unskilled manual work in their respective villages.
An estimated amount of Rupees 20,000 crore was likely to be spent over the implementation of the programme in the country and Himachal Pradesh would also be getting its due share in the same.
Union Finance Minister, P.Chidambran launed the Aam admi Bima scheme in the state on October 2 at Shimla. He will also be accompanied by Labor Minister, Oscar Fernandez. This scheme will help the common man and the Congress is hopeful that with such schemes, it will be in position to garner the votes of the majority people of the state who will get benefit from both these schemes.
Earlier, Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh was to launch the scheme. However, he could not make it to Shimla due to bad health.
The decision of the Congress high command to concentrate in Himachal Pradesh is aimed at to win the assembly elections and to thwart the attempts of the BJP to stage a major come back in this hilly state. The BJP had earlier ruled the state twice on its own and one time on the symbol of Janta party.
Though Congress has clarified that it will not contest the assembly elections in the state under the leadership of any leader yet there are indications that Vir Bhadra Singh will have his say in the state. Singh is ruling the state for last two decades and is known all over the state.
The another faction of the party led by Mrs. Vidya Stokes, the Power Minister of the state is trying its best to thwart the attempts Mr. Singh to become the chief minister of the state for one more term. This faction has told the high command that it will be suicidal for the party if the coming elections are contested under the leadership of Mr. Singh due to his anti people stance.
Moreover, re-emergence of the BJP on the political scenario of the state and its rapport with the state people has made the Congress people to understand that it is not possible for them to repeat the 2003 performance. The Congress had won 43 seats in that election as against sixteen by the BJP.
Similarly, the BSP may also harm the cause of the congress this time as it has decided to contest the election on the plank of making Major Vijay Singh Mankotia, a former Congress minister as the next chief minister of the state. The party is going to contest the election on the slogan of maintaining social harmony by giving tickets to people of all castes and creeds. There is general feeling among masses that the benefit of the BSP will be a net loss for the Congress.
Whatever may be the outcome of the next elections, one thing is sure that the lofty slogans of the Congress and the launch of so called pro-people programmes are unlikely to help the party as the people are unhappy with it due to role played by its leaders and workers in the state during last fifty seven months of the party government.
CHANDER SHEKHAR SHARMA, HAMIRPUR HP 10/2/20071:11 PM