Shimla: Electioneering is peaking for the two seats being contested in the bye-poll in Himachal as both the ruling and opposition party have deployed heavy weights, which include chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and union minister Virbhadra Singh to woe voters.
Banking on sympathy votes, both congress and BJP have fielded immediate family members of the deceased legislators in the Renuka and Nalagarh seats, affirming the days of dynastic politics through democratic means in the state.
Though congress appears to be focusing more on Renuka, where it has fielded Vijay Kumar, son of the deceased legislator Dr Prem Singh, as its candidate, a confident BJP is pushing hard to wrest the seat from the opposition even as its cadres are claiming a certain win at Nalagarh.
The ruling party is drawing inferences from the last Lok Sabha polls when the BJP candidate obtained a lead of 3885 votes over the congress candidate at Renuka segment and a lead of 8500 votes at Nalagarh segment. Both segments are part of the Shimla Lok Sabha seat.
BJP is highlighting the backwardness of Renuka, primarily because the seat has been represented by a congressman for a long time.
To the annoyance of old party cadres, BJP pulled out a middle level Himachal administrative officer, Hirdya Ram from service and has put him up as its candidate.
The green horn is testing his personal and the party popularity in what has been a congress bastion.
On the other hand congress is getting back at BJP in Nalagarh for having neglected the constituency because the deceased member Hari Naryan Singh Sani, belonged to a dissident faction within the ruling party.
With the industrial belt of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh falling in the assembly segment, bad roads, chaotic traffic and industrial pollution are issues before the voters.
To douse the fire of dissidence and banking on sympathy for the deceased legislator, BJP fielded Gurnam Kaur, wife of Harinaryan Singh Saini.
Fault lines in congress were visible during selection of the candidate for this seat but the party president Kaul Singh faction prevailing upon union minister Virbhadraâ€™s one and Lakhwinder Rana was picked as the congress candidate.
With the electioneering entering its last phase, yesterday at the behest of congress workers, election observer Vir Bhadur along with the police inspected a room being used by BJP for storing campaign material at Sangarah in Renuka segment and stumbled upon Rs 85,000.
Allegations of money power being deployed the ruling party have been leveled and one Bhagat Ram, said to be part of transport minister Mohinder Singhâ€™s team was detained and questioned about the money origins.
BJP spokesman Ganesh Dutt today denied charges of voter bribery, saying the money was meant for polling agents on election day and is part of the candidates election expenses.
The crucial bye-elections are being seen as a litmus test for both the parties to gauge the voters inclination before the general assembly election that is due by October 2012.
â€œPolling is scheduled for 30th November. There are a total of 67,780 voters in Nalagarh and 52,473 in Renuka,â€ said Narinder Chauhan, chief electoral officer.