Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will start the election campaign from Solan in Himachal Pradesh from October 10 and will address a rally in the state.
Priyanka Gandhi is likely to hold the fort of the Congress in the state since Rahul Gandhi is leading the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The Congress is eyeing a comeback in the hill state and this will be the first election in the state which will be without Virbhadra Singh. However, the Congress has appointed his wife Pratibha Singh as the state president.
The Congress is confident of clawing back to power, and banks largely on the trend of alternate governments in the state since 1985. The party is, however, facing a leadership crisis in the state and has also witnessed veterans jumping ship to the BJP.
The latest high-profile exit from the Congress party was loyalist and three-time legislator Harsh Mahajan, who for over a decade played a crucial role in strengthening the party’s organisation at the grassroots under Virbhadra Singh.
Mahajan, 66, also close to Congress loyalist-turned-rebel Ghulam Nabi Azad, was president of the state Youth Congress for nine years, the longest serving president so far, and served as a cabinet minister and a parliamentary secretary for 10 years.
Before Mahajan, the other prominent leaders who defected were five-time legislator Ram Lal Thakur, who resigned as vice-president of the party committee citing “displeasure” over its working, and two sitting legislators — Lakhwinder Rana and Pawan Kajal.
Interestingly both Mahajan and Kajal were appointed the state working presidents, along with two others, Rajinder Rana and Vinay Kumar, when the three-term MP Pratibha Singh, the widow of Virbhadra Singh, was appointed the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president in April.
Corruption, unemployment and poor performance of the government will be among the major issues in the forthcoming Assembly elections, said AICC spokesperson Alka Lamba.
She said the BJP government, both at the Centre and the state, has been making false claims.