As soon as the day breaks, the silence in this VVIP segment is broken by slogans for BJP’s re-election to power and leading the campaign is its chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal who is meeting locals with a tiny ‘induction chulha’ in his hands.

Bolo dil se....Dhumal phir se...”, the familiar slogan fills the air as Dhumal, BJP’s soft-spoken, mild-mannered “commoner” candidate interacts with people.

“This is our answer to the Congress’ legacy of inflation fuelled by a recent rise in the cost of LPG cylinders. These chulhas will help every household save Rs 800 per month. We will give these free first to BPL families and later to the others,” says Dhumal, dubbing the price rise and corruption as the twin banes of Congress rule at the Centre.

The entire BJP leadership led by the CM and his MP son Anurag Thakur has been following the same line during canvassing and projecting induction heaters as a kind of magical tool that can balance every family’s upset budgets.

Across this VIP constituency as also the entire district of Hamirpur, the heater talk has caught the fancy of voters who consider BJP rebel and Dhumal’s rival in the segment — Narendra Thakur, son of saffron stalwart from the area Jagdev Chand Thakur — not a big threat.

Interestingly, Jagdev Thakur’s daughter-in-law Urmil Thakur has vacated Hamirpur, her original seat, for Dhumal who lost the Bamsan assembly segment in delimitation.

For Dhumal, who is eyeing a third term as the CM, the challenge this time around is not so much anti-incumbency as BJP rebellion across the State. He, however, dismisses the rebel factor and says people want development which the BJP is capable of delivering.

“Our Government has remained a Government of the people. We will continue to work for the common man while the Congress will keep filling its coffers, an example of which is the scams worth lakhs of crores at the Centre and those in the State led by Virbhadra Singh, the State Congress chief,” Dhumal says at election rallies.

(This article was published on November 2, 2012)
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