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Weather improves in Shimla, parties hit
the campaign trail with a vengeance
Pankaj Upadhyaya in Shimla | February 20, 2003 16:58 IST
There is good news from Shimla. The skies have finally cleared in the capital of Himachal Pradesh and campaigning for the February 26 assembly election has resumed in right earnest.
At the time this report was filed, preparations were in full swing for Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's rally at the Ridge area in Shimla.
There is some bad news too. Temperatures will continue to remain low over the next few days, prompting fears of a low turn out on the day of polling.
Chief Electoral Officer Manisha Nanda told rediff.com that district magistrates have been instructed to make arrangements to ensure that polling begins and is completed as per schedule.
Regional Director Met Office (Chandigarh) S C Bhan on Thursday morning told rediff.com that the weather would continue to improve in the next couple of days though a drop in temperatures will be experienced owing to the snowfall in the higher reaches of the state.
However, the politicians are back in business and leaders of all parties fanned out all over the state to make up for the loss of a day due to the snowfall.
Till about 12 in the afternoon, there were doubts about the PM's rally and BJP leaders were frantically trying to get a confirmation from Delhi that the rally would take place.
As soon as the confirmation did come around 1230 IST, BJP activists immediately sped off in their vehicles fitted with loudspeakers beseeching people to attend the rally, scheduled for 1600 IST.
The prime minister finished a scheduled election rally at Mandi around 1345 IST and left for Shimla by air.
Almost every top leader in the ruling BJP and the Congress admits that the snowfall has put back campaigning by two days and that they have a lot of catching up to do.
The low temperatures are also causing concern about the turnout on the day of polling as temperatures are still much below normal in the higher reaches. The snowfall has stopped, but has been replaced by intermittent rainfall.
Assistant Director of the research centre in the Y S Parmar University for Horticulture and Forestry S P Bhardwaj, who keeps track of trends in the weather, expects more snowfall in the next 15-20 days, which is bad news for the voters.
BJP leader Pramod Mahajan admits that the foul weather could lead to a low turnout, though he is confident it will benefit his cadre-based party.
A PTI report said that fresh snowfall on Thursday plummeted temperatures below freezing point at several places in
Traffic on the 320-km long Hindustan-Tibet road remained suspended for the third day due to heavy snow.
More reports from Himachal Pradesh