Himachal polls: Politicians await auspicious days



Shimla: Politicians in Himachal Pradesh are awaiting for auspicious days for filing their nomination papers and launching their campaigns for the November 4 Assembly polls.

Most of the contesting candidates say once 'pitripaksh' or 'shradhs' - a fortnight-long inauspicious period for Hindus - are over and the auspicious 'navratras' begin October 16, they will start filing their nomination papers.

Election officials here said six nomination papers have been filed in the state in the past three days till Friday.

They included BJP's Inder Singh and Congress' Anil Sharma from Balh and Mandi (Sadar) seats respectively.

Officials said the majority of nominations are likely to be filed on the last two days October 16 and 17.

"Most of the contestants will be filing nominations after the 'shradhs' are over," state BJP chief Satpal Satti said on Saturday.

He said even campaigns by the top leadership have been planned during the 'navratras'.

"Navratras are considered an auspicious period. It's a good period to file a nomination and launch a campaign," said Prem Prasad Pandit, an astrologer in Shimla.

He said he has even advised the candidates not to file the papers before the onset of 'Navratras'.

"The last two days will be quite hectic. We are expecting more than 400 nominations to be filed on these days for 68 seats," additional state electoral officer PL Negi said.

In the 2007 Assembly polls, 336 candidates, including 25 women, were in the fray. In the 2003 polls, there were 408 candidates, of which 31 were women.

Poll officials are expecting the number of contestants to be high this time as many mainstream parties like the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Trinamool Congress are queuing up to test the political waters in the state for the first time.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which won just one seat with a vote bank of 7.26 percent in the state in 2007 elections, is eyeing to field candidates on all seats.

A third front called Him Lok Morcha, comprising the Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP), a new outfit comprising mainly BJP rebels, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Communist Party of India (CPI), has decided to jointly contest the polls for all 68 seats.

Political observers say since the gap between the polling dates for assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat is almost 40 days, the top leadership of the BJP and the Congress will concentrate only on the hill state.

"In the next few days Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are in line for canvassing, whereas BJP stalwarts like LK Advani and Nitin Gadkari will also be seen in the state," an observer said.

The final picture will emerge after October 20, the last date for withdrawal of nominations.

As many as 45.9 lakh voters will cast their ballots on November 4 at 7,252 polling stations.

IANS