Shimla: Defeating the objective of keeping the elections for Panchayati Raj Institutions above party lines, both congress and BJP have unplugged all maneouvers at their command to wrest control of block samithis and zila parishads, executives for which are being constituted.
While a BJP legislator and a congress leader fell short of coming to blows, amidst high drama in Hamirpur on Wednesday at an election for chairman and vice-chairman of a block samithi in Hamirpur, hectic political activity was underway to swing the majority in Shimla district, where congress supported members had initially claimed to have secured a majority in the zila parishad elections.
Though after some hiccups, BJP has won the Hamirpur zila parishad and block samithis, itâ€™s an uphill task for the ruling party to swing the chairman and vice-chairman election in Kangra and Shimla districts.
â€œWe have the numbers in Kangra,â€ claims GS Bali, a former minister and senior congressman but goes onto add, the government is exerting pressure on the elected members so as to swing the election in favour of a BJP supported candidate.â€
He pointed out that there had been an incident earlier also when an FIR for kidnapping zila parishad members was lodged against ministers of a BJP government.â€
On the other hand BJP president Khimmi Ram said, â€œCongress has lost the Panchayati Raj elections and is leveling false allegations.â€ Without specifying which districts, he went onto say that of the ten districts, BJP has won in 8 and would get its candidates elected as chairman and vice-chairman in them.
With elections to all panchayat bodies held without any party symbols and those who have being drawn into warring BJP and congress camps, dissidence within both parties is also on display as opposing factions are out to settle scores to the detriment of their party affiliation.
In Shimla district, where congress supporters was considered to have won a majority but infighting among the Vidya Stokes and Virbhadra Singh factions has caused a stalemate that could dilute the gains.
In Una, BJP appears to be dominant, in Chamba both are evenly poised and in Kullu, congress appears to have an upper hand.
While both parties are out shadow boxing, Anil Chandel, a resident of Bilaspur says, â€˜to do away the fuss of this proxy election in panchayat bodies, it should be held along party lines for ensuring transparency and fair play.