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Home > Election > Report

Parties hoping for good turnout in HP

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | February 26, 2003 02:59 IST

Hours before Himachal Pradesh went to the polls on February 26 to elect a new assembly, the BJP and Congress were praying that voters would turn up in large numbers even as former Union minister Sukh Ram is sitting tight confident that his party would become indispensable after the results are out.

BJP general secretary and official spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said his party is confident of retaining power.

He did not predict how many seats his party would win, but said it would be enough to form the government on its own.

Intelligence reports had earlier indicated that the Congress has the edge in the state.

Congress general secretary Ambika Soni, who toured the state extensively in the last few weeks is convinced that people would vote the BJP government out of power.

"The mood amongst the people of the state is one for change," Soni told rediff.com after her return to Delhi.

According to her, the Congress is set to win anything between 35-39 seats.

"We would win eight seats in the Kangra region, considered the strong hold of the BJP, four in Chamba, three in Sirmour, and four each in Hamirpur and Nahan. We expect to do well in other parts of the state too," she claimed.

Expressing satisfaction with the Congress campaign, she said, "Congress president Sonia Gandhi got an unprecedented response in the five public rallies she addressed during the last phase of the elections."

Senior Congress leaders, however, admit in private that rebel candidates would affect the party's prospects.

"At least three rebels are in a winning position," a senior leader from Himachal Pradesh told rediff.com.

Himachal Vikas Congress chief Sukh Ram pooh poohed the claims of both the major parties. He is convinced that no government could be formed in the state without the help of his party. His party had won four seats in the last election.

"We will increase our tally in this election. We could have a Jammu and Kashmir-like situation where the bigger party would have to support a smaller party," he told rediff.com on phone from Mandi.


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