Shimla: In poll-bound Himachal, where political heat has reached to the maximum in its last leg, the capping on LPG cylinders following a recent order by the Centre has pushed all other issues on the backburner with the ruling BJP banking on it to keep voters away from Congress.
"Gas ke chulhe ki mar ya Induction chulhe ka uphar (choice is yours, whether a free induction stove or the pinch of cap on LPG cylinders)" has become new banner slogan of the BJP, which, by announcing free induction stoves to all households, is trying its best to convince people that choosing Congress won`t be a wise option.
Banners flashing induction stoves are on display at every key poll rally to remind voters of BJP`s promise and keep the decision on LPG cylinders taken by Congress-led UPA government at the Centre afresh in their minds.
BJP workers donning aprons with picture of LPG cylinder and comparative prices of cooking gas and other commodities imprinted on them are campaigning in the state.
Meanwhile, the Congress too seems to be in no mood to give up and it has been regularly questioning the rationale behind the Himachal government not hiking the cap by three additional cylinders, as done by various Congress-led state governments.
With both the parties taking their campaigns to the middle-class kitchens, the issue of corruption, that was raised prominently by both the parties against each other, has apparently taken a back seat.
Earlier, while the BJP was targeting Congress over allegations levelled against HPCC president and former Union minister Virbhadra Singh, Congress was busy cornering its main political opponent in the state over charges against Nitin Gadkari.
The question of unemployment also found reference in the campaign but it largely remained confined to the election manifestos of all political parties.
The Congress, CPI(M) and TMC promised employment allowance of Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 to unemployed youth, while BJP promised to create 10 lakh employment opportunities in next five years.
While the BJP raised the issue of "abolishing" of jobs to pin the Congress, the Congress alleged that the BJP government gave jobs only to its own kith and kin at the cost of merit.
About 45.90 lakh voters will decide the fate of 459 candidates including 20 women in the polling on November 4.
The BJP and the Congress are contesting all 68 seats, the BSP has fielded candidates on 66 seats, followed by HLP 36, TMC 25, LPJ 18, CPI (M) 16, SP and Swabhiman Party 15 each, NCP 15, CPI 7 and Shiv Sena 4.
There are 105 independent candidates in the fray including one and a half dozen rebels of BJP and Congress.
Senior leaders of both BJP and Congress, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, AICC President Sonia Gandhi, former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, BJP President Nitin Gadkari, Narendra Modi, Smriti Irani and Rajnath Singh have campaigned in the state.