Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, Shimla


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Even as the state election commission notified polls for 3,615 gram panchayats across the 12 districts, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Opposition have begun drawing strategies.

Though the polls are held without using party symbols, political parties view control over gram panchayats as building blocks to consolidate their power. Both the Congress and BJP are attaching much significance to elections as the polls will be an indicator of the public’s mood, particularly in the rural areas of the state.

The state election commission has already announced the schedule for elections to urban local bodies. The BJP had begun preparing for the panchayat elections way in advance but a section of Congress leaders had demanded that the state government postpone the elections in the wake of surge in Covid cases.

Addressing a virtual meeting with party leaders, state BJP chief Suresh Kashyap had said, “Our aim is to emerge victorious in all elections from the panchayat to the parliament.”

BJP’s newly appointed state party affairs in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna held virtual meetings with officer bearers at the block level to ensure the right selection of candidates for gram panchayats. The party’s co-incharge Sanjay Tandon also held discussions with the party office bearers at the block level.

Khanna had said, “All MPs and MLAs will ensure one day a week is dedicated to party workers. They will also boost the morale of all workers. Leaders and party workers should coordinate smoothly.”

The Congress has also already held a series of meetings with party workers and office bearers. State party chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore has directed all district presidents of the party to support candidates aligned with the Congress.

He has directed office bearers to keep a tab on the BJP’s activities and remain vigilant about electoral malpractices.