Assembly By-Election 2019: Battle of prestige for BJP, Congress out to salvage its pride

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4,180 liters liquor, Rs. 4,95,325 worth Heroine, Charas, Capsules, Poppy husk, Ganja seized

Campaigning for the Assembly By-Election in Pachhad and Dharamshala constituency has come to an end. Both Congress and ruling BJP have left no stone unturned to woo voters. Being a ruling party in the state and riding high on the Modi wave – assembly by-election has become a battle of prestige, while for the grand old party it’s a battle of salvaging its lost pride.

For BJP, Chief Minister, his cabinet colleagues and most of its leaders, including veteran leaders Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal, campaigned aggressively, and on the other side, Indian National Congress was depended only on new faces.

Senior Congress leader Mukesh Agnihotri lead the campaign in the Dharamshala assembly constituency, while in Pachhad Congress state president Kuldeep Singh Rathore lead the campaign and aptly supported by Dhani Ram Shandil and Vikramaditya Singh.

Political veteran Virbhadra Singh could not campaigned for the party candidates due to health issues, but he issued appealed to the electorates to vote in favour the party.

BJP, in its campaign, sought votes on the name Modi and abrogation of controversial article 370 and 35A, while Congress was pitching for non-performance of state government and failure of Union Government on the issues of falling economy.

Rebels making triangular contest in Dharamshala and Pachhad

Traditionally, Indian National Congress and BJP are only 2 parties dominating the election result in the state, but this time, rebels from both Dharamshala and Pachhad constituencies are in the contest as many political observers are believing them strong contenders in the election. With Dyal Pyari from Pachhad and Rakesh Kumar from Dharamshala have made this by-election triangular contest and making tough for the ruling BJP. Congress candidates seems to gain from rebels’ presence.

Congress levels Poll-Code Violation allegations

During the campaign, Congress had levelled serious allegations of violating poll code against BJP leaders particularly Speaker Rajiv Bindal, IPH Minister Mahinder Thakur and Health Minister. The State Congress even taken out protest rally ‘Save Democracy March’ at Rajgarh in Pachhad assembly constituency and even submitted a memorandum to Chief Electoral Officer, Himachal Pradesh through SDM Rajgarh alleging foul play and violation of Model Code of Conduct by BJP leaders. However, the BJP had rejected the Congress allegations.

During the poll code, the Election Commission has received total 17 complaints, out of which 12 from Sirmour and five from Kangra district. The poll commission claimed of disposing off all the complaints.

Cash and Liquor worth 17.73 lakh seized during Model Code of Conduct

Chief Electoral Office revealed that during Model Code of Conduct in Dharamshala and Sirmour districts, flying squads of Police, Income Tax and Excise Departments jointly seized cash worth rupees 1,21,020. Apart from it 4,180 liters of liquor worth rupees 11,56,159 in Dharamshala and Pachhad assembly constituencies and border areas of both the districts.

Flying squads also seized Heroine, Charas, Capsules, Poppy husk, Ganja, Smack etc. worth rupees 4,95,325 till 19 October.

202 polling stations set up in Dharamshala and Pachhad constituencies  

To ensure free and fair election, the Election Commission has set up total 202 polling stations in Dharamshala and Pachhad Assembly constituencies, out of which 113 in Pachhad Assembly segment and 89 in Dharamshala, including one Auxiliary polling station at Dari in Dharamshala segment. 89 polling parties, consisting of 356 personnel in Dharamshala AC, while 113 polling parties, consisting of 452 personnel have been deployed for smooth conduction of Bye elections.

Total 82,137 voters will cast their votes that in Dharamshala segment, while 74,487 in Pachhad constituency. One Auxiliary polling station at Dari old age home will facilitate 24 old age inmates in Dharamshala assembly constituency. The Election Commission has identified 13 in Pachhad and 10 in Dharamshala as vulnerable polling stations, while 4 polling stations have been categorized as critical in Dharamshala Assembly constituency.

Control Room set up in CEO office

The Election Commission has set up control room in the CEO office from 19 to 22 October, 2019. Deputy CEO Anil Kumar has been appointed as In-charge of the control room. He will be assisted by 11 employees of the Election Department, who will receive the information about any reported incident or any other important information from both the assembly constituencies and send to CEO or Additional CEO.

Telephone numbers 0177-2622362, 2621551, 2623407, 2624624, 2622721 have been installed in the control room, while any media related information can be collected on telephone number 2625252, installed in Election Media Centre.

Counting centres at Govt.PG College Dharamshala and Degree College Rajgar

The polling in both constituencies will start at 8 AM till 5 PM on 21 October. The counting of votes will be done on 24 October at Govt. Degree College Rajgarh for Pachhad constituency, while counting of votes for Dharamshala constituency will be done at Prayas Bhawan, Govt. PG Degree College, and Dharamshala, which will start at 8 AM.