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Parties Fail to Sense Mood of Voters, But Hopeful of Wresting Town Hall seat

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Shimla, June 3: So far, it has been a low-key tripartite tussle between the ruling Congress, the BJP and the CPM. The parties are clueless and weighing options, such as how to pick up “individual winners” in 34 wards to capture the Town Hall, the seat of one of country’s oldest municipalities. Cong, BJP, CPM have failed to sense the mood of voters.
Reason: The Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC) is going to polls on June 16 on non-party symbols to elect its new 34-member House, which in turn will elect the eights Mayor and Deputy Mayor in the third week of June after the results are out on June 17.
The parties have not been able to sense the mood of voters. But it is learnt that the latter are considering a candidate’s rapport, support base and background as it is a “free-for-all” contest. The Congress is not holding the elections on party symbols as a part of its strategy to keep the BJP at bay. The BJP lost two chances, first in 1986 and the second in 2012, to capture the SMC. The CPM created history, showing doors to the Congress and the BJP by winning the posts of Mayor and Deputy Mayor in the first-ever direct elections tried by the BJP regime to wrest the SMC. But it failed despite having 12 councillors while the Congress had 11 and the CPM two.
This time, the BJP is re-trying to wrest the SMC from the Congress taking advantage of “Modi Magic” and the party’s victory in the Delhi civic elections. Corruption is another factor. But somewhere, the BJP’s calculations have gone wrong as the elections are being held without any delay.
“The Congress and the CPM are “allies” and the ongoing “Virbhadra-Sukhu fight” has made it easy for us to win the MC poll. Voters know which party they should support in the MC and Assembly elections,” said Suresh Bhardwaj, two-time MLA from Shimla.
But the Congress is banking on its “unprecedented good work it did in the last four years” to retain its hold on the civic body. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered two lectures on his visit to Shimla and Himachal and the local MLA has done nothing in the last 10 years. The CPM turned the city into a town of squatters and vendors while tax and rent payers remained the worst-hit,” said Harish Janartha, former Deputy Mayor and vice-chairman, HPTDC.
“On the other hand, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh launched projects worth Rs 200 crore, including parking projects and ropeways, beautification of The Mall, Town Hall, The Ridge, tarring of all roads one-time settlement policy, but the BJP delayed it (later, High Court put it on hold) and the Kol Dam water scheme for Shimla is in the pipeline,” Janartha said, adding that the Congress would retain its hold on the SMC.
Mayor Sanjay Chauhan and Deputy Mayor Tikender Panwar said they gave residents a “corruption-free house’, tarred roads and lit streets. “We delivered good services, gave a transparent and corruption-free government to the people. They will support the CPM,” they asserted.
Source Tribune India

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