Himachal ready for assembly polls with record 995 nominations

The nomination round is complete and we have a total of 995 nominations from 660-odd candidate as some of the candidates filed more than one set of nomination for the 68-member House election to be held on November 04-2012. However, the valid number of total nomination papers filed is 509. Usual pomp and show followed the candidates to the nomination centers and 254 candidates filed their papers on the last day. This number sets a record of nominations filed for the Himachal assembly election. Inner party conflicts, mainly arising from denial of the ticket to some experienced and prominent personalities in their respective constituencies from both, Congress and BJP, played some role raising the number of nominations. Other than this, Him Lokhit Morcha, involvement of TMC, NCP etc. has given the rebels more options. Himachal has a total of 45,15,604 eligible voters, which includes 23,14,235 males and 22,01,369 females, who would decide the fate of the candidates on the polling day – 4 November.

Multi Millionaire candidates

As per the declaration of the personal property made by candidates, Himachal has 22 candidates in multimillionaire list, which includes 6 from Congress, 2 independents, and 13 from BJP. With moveable and immovable assets, Virbhadra Singh reached almost 70 crore, while Bihari Lal Butail, a well known Congress leader from district Kangra posses assets of near about 150 crore. Of course, the wealth matters when it comes to promotional campaigns. As compared to the previous assembly elections in 2007, the assets of various political personalities have doubled in five years. Sadly, for the public, only costs of the commodities and petroleum has seen growth. However, Media Certification and Monitoring Committee have assured that the election expenditure by the candidates and the parties will be under strict monitoring. The Election Commission also claims to have included police observers to look after the flying squad and static surveillance teams.

Election Commission Directs Parties to refrain using relgious venues for their campaigns

Indian Election Commission has directed the political parties to refrain from using the festival venues as a stage for their electoral campaigns like Jagarans during the Navaratras, Dushera or any other religious gathering. Any attempt to use these religious venues as a platform for party campaign such as participation in inaugural ceremonies and distribution of promotional materials in any form will be considered as a violation of the directions under the provisions of Religious Institutions (Prevention and Misuse) Act, 1988. That doesn’t put a ban on participation in the celebration. But still, it’s quite disappointing, especially, when you are missing a gathering like we see at Kullu-Dushera.

Blame Game Gains Hike

Interestingly, this time the blame game has become the favorite weapon of political parties to gain attention and the sympathy of the public. It’s not that the allegations, which these two parties are putting over each other are false or just the attempts to deceive the public, but it has been surely confusing the public. Where Congress leader Virbhadra Singh calls the BJP government lead by Prem Kumar Dhumal as the most corrupt government ever, the BJP is using the CD case and the compromise with Vijay Singh Mankotia as a counter attack and to highlight the corrupt nature of the congress leader. Well, BJP seems to have an upper hand in the blame game as the act of giving party ticket from Shahpur to Vijay Singh Mankotia, who had accused Virbhadra in the CD case and was expelled from the party, sounds apparently odd to everyone. How come a long rivalry turned into a friendship in a day? From BJP camp, one more card, being used to attack Virbhadra lead government, is regarding a and deal with DLF in 2007, when Congress was in the power.

The impact of the mud slinging on two main political parties of the nation in the center can also be seen in Himachal. Arvind Keijariwal is one guy who is creating a big headache for both parties and has already done a good deal of damage to their public image. He even made Salman Khurshid lose his temper and publically challenge Kejariwal to dare lead a protest against him in Farrukhabad.

Keijariwal is targeting individual personalities of various parties instead of a particular political organization and that’s what make him a fatal threat for all of the politicians. However, the allegation on Anjali Damania, an IAC member, has relieved BJP a bit. She was alleged to have bought a part of land as an agricultural land and then selling it for a huge profit after it was declared non-agricultural after five years. On the other hand, unlawful DLF property deals by Robert Vadra are also posing questions whether being the son-in-law of the Chief of the Congress, Sonia Gandhi, is fetching him favors from government machinery. BJP is falling short of words as an explanation in the case of irrigation scam that involves Nitin Gadkari. The real estate and property dealing involves a great number of political personalities and in most of the cases, the agricultural land is converted into commercial land and farmers suffers the most. We have an example of the same in Shimla, where forest land was sold to DLF for the construction of Samtara Luxury Villa and hundreds of trees were taken down. Both, Congress and BJP, are unable to clarify their sides and most of the time a statement that we hear from the ministers of these parties is “ Ye Arope Party Ki Chavi Kharab Karne Ke Liye Lagaye Gaye Hain”.

Even the Facebook and other social networking websites are full of promotional and anti-party content. The cartoons, photoshopped images of ministers and MLAs, slogans etc. could bee seen on Facebook, Orkut and Twitter. CPI(M) is the most active party in using the services of Internet as a medium for approaching the voters. Well, that’s obvious – marxists are known for their trust on scientific theories and they seems to have implementing them well.

Security Arrangements

Election Commission is to deploy five companies of CAPF to ensure peaceful polling for the state legislative assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh. A close eye would be kept on the people travelling from Haryana and Uttarakhand to Himachal and for this purpose, 13 checkposts have already been set up in Himachal, 7 in Haryana and 3 in Uttarakhand. It will ensure a check on the entry of miscreants and criminals into the State. However, the real criminals and miscreants sit among the elite class in our state, so the Election Commission should worry more about that.

Rise of the Rebels

The disappointed members of Congress and BJP, including previous ministers and MLAs, who were denied tickets are rising as rebels. These candidates are either fighting the election as Independent candidates or from other parties.Himachal Lokhit Party seems to have attracted many former BJP MLAs and ministers. The list of these rebels includes Shyama Sharma, Maheshwar Singh (former MP), Dulo Ram, Khushi Ram Balnahta, Naveen Dhiman and Babu Ram Mandyal. The Congress minister Singhi Ram, Prem Lata Thakur, Tilak Raj Sharma, Harbhajan Bhajji has filed nominations as independent candidates.

Other than these, Mohinder Singh (Dharampur), Bragta (Jubbal-Kotkhai), Khimi (Kullu), Satti (Una) and Thakur (Drang), and former Parliamentary secretary Chet Ram (Kinnaur ST seat) are among the major rebels, who could snatch a good number of votes from two giants.

Nirankari Congregation and busy apple harvest time create worries for BJP and Congress

Candidates from both parties are to miss approximately 30,000-40,000 voters due to the movement of the followers of Sant Nirankari Mission to Delhi just two days before the polling date. Himachal has around one lakh followers of the Sant Nirankari Mission and in front of the international congregation of Nirankaris in Delhi to be held from 3 – 5 November, the voting is not the priority. Even in Kinnaur, the people are busy in harvesting this season’s apple crop and for that reason they might miss the polling. Even the candidates visiting the areas as a part of their campaign are admitting their inability to reach the maximum number of the voters due to the same reason.

In nutshell, it’s a complete mess up this time and neutral voters would find it confusing amidst the revelation of scams and allegations from BJP and Congress. The government employees might not find it that difficult to decide, but for the common man, unemployed educated youth and farmers, it would be quite puzzling as it’s becoming hard to find any difference between the nature and the intentions of the major political parties.However, in the coming days, before the polling date, the candidates and the parties would put their best effort to impress the public and defame each other in order to gain the public sympathy.

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