|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Congress has the edge in
Himachal Pradesh: IB report
Onkar Singh in new delhi | February 19, 2003 10:45 IST
Even though the Bharatiya Janata Party sent its top leaders on February 12 to all the districts of Himachal Pradesh for electioneering, the Congress has the edge in the assembly polls, according to an Intelligence Bureau survey.
The BJP has improved its position marginally but is way behind the Congress, it says.
Last week, the agency had put the BJP tally at around 19. It has now gone up to 21 after a week of hectic campaigning. The Congress is projected to win around 29 seats.
"These are tentative figures and will fluctuate for the next few days. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi are likely to campaign in the next couple of days to bolster the chances of their parties."
"But the BJP is not likely to catch up with the Congress. The biggest surprise in the elections will come from the rebel candidates or the independents," a source in the agency said.
Both the Congress and BJP are being adversely affected by the presence of a large number of rebel candidates.
Twenty-three Congress and 22 BJP rebels are in the fray. According to the survey, at least six of them are likely to win.
In another sixteen constituencies, factionalism between the Shanta Kumar and Dhumal groups is likely to have a major impact on the outcome.
Sukh Ram's Himachal Vikas Congress is unlikely to repeat its 1998 performance when it picked up four seats and propped up the BJP government led by Prem Kumar Dhumal.
According to the survey, the HVC is not likely to win more than 2 seats this time. A week back, the IB had put the HVC figure at just one with Sukh Ram retaining his Mandi Sadar seat.
His main challenger is Kiran Kumari (BJP). Mandi has 64,299 voters out of which 32,394 are males and 31,905 are females.
Some of the other important seats:
Dhumal is contesting from Bamsan in Hamirpur district; former Congress chief minister Virbhadra Singh is contesting from Rohru; state Congress unit president Vidya Stokes from Kumarsain and Speaker Gulab Singh from Joginder Nagar.
Dhumal is locked in a ten-cornered contest, but his main rival is Kuldeep Pathania of the Congress. Bamsan has 59,018 voters out of which 31,173 are male and 27,845 are females.
In Rohru, Virbhadra Singh faces a tough challenge from Khushi Ram Bal Nahta. Though Nahta has lost to Virbhadra Singh on previous occasions, this time he hopes to pull through. Rohru has 63,033 voters of which 32,396 are male and 30,637 are females.
Vidya Stokes faces Sandeep Bhardwaj (BJP) in Kumarsain, which has a total electorate of 56,594. In this constituency, the number of male and female voters is almost equal.
Speaker Gulab Singh, who joined the BJP on the eve of the election, is locked in a seven-cornered contest in Joginder Nagar, which has 62,312 voters. Surender Pal Thakur is his main rival.
Another interesting battle will be in Santokhgarh, where state BJP chief Jai Krishan Sharma is pitted against local journalist Mukesh Agnihotri, who has been given a Congress ticket. Six others are in the fray from this seat.
More reports from Himachal Pradesh