Campaigning ended Friday evening for elections to all four Lok Sabha constituencies in Himachal Pradesh, where five MLAs, including a state minister, are trying to make it to Parliament. Forty-five candidates are in the fray for the May 19 contest over the four constituencies--Shimla (SC), Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra. There are 53,30,154 voters in Himachal Pradesh.
The canvassing in the state had gained momentum after May 10, when campaigning for the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha elections ended. Political bigwigs, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, had descended on the state for the last leg of parliamentary elections.
Modi had addressed rallies in Mandi and Solan while BJP president Amit Shah held three meetings on a single day. Congress president Rahul Gandhi campaigned in the state even on the last day of electioneering. He addressed a rally in Solan on Friday.
At an earlier rally in Una, Rahul Gandhi had flayed the Modi government over demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who had failed to attend an election rally in Sundernagar on May 14 due to bad weather, had sent a video message, urging voters to extend their support to the party's Mandi candidate Aashray Sharma.
During the high-pitched campaigning, Punjab minister and Congress' star campaigner Navjot Singh Sidhu termed the prime minister the "biggest liar" and "Feku No.1", accusing him of not fulfilling his election promises in Bilaspur. Campaigning for the BJP in Kullu, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had hit out at the Congress on its promise of abolishing the sedition law, promising to make it more stringent.
A direct contest is expected between the ruling BJP and the Congress. The BJP had won all four seats in 2014. This time, the BJP says that it will repeat its last performance, a claim challenged by the Congress.
The BJP has fielded state Food and Civil Supplies Minister Kishan Kapoor from Kangra after dropping sitting MP Shanta Kumar. Kangra Congress MLA Pawan Kajal is contesting against him. In Hamirpur, three-time MP and former BCCI president Anurag Thakur is the fray on the BJP ticket against Sri Naina Devi MLA Ram Lal Thakur of the Congress.
BJP's Pachhad MLA Suresh Kashyap is contesting against Solan Congress MLA Dr Dhani Ram Shandil from the Shimla (SC) constituency. Aashray Sharma, who is the grandson of former Union Telecom Minister Sukh Ram, is trying his luck as a Congress candidate against sitting BJP MP Ram Swaroop Sharma from Mandi.
His father Anil Sharma had to resign from the state cabinet after he decided to contest the elections on the Congress ticket.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)