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Heavy snowfall puts brakes
on Himachal poll campaign
Pankaj Upadhyaya in Shimla | February 19, 2003 14:38 IST
Heavy snowfall on Tuesday night has put the brakes on campaigning for the February 26 assembly election in Himachal Pradesh.
Shimla received about 4-5 inches of snowfall, while it is expected to be much higher in the farther reaches of the state.
The inclement weather had disrupted communications lines and prevented movement of vehicles in the upper regions of the state.
Vehicles from the plains can reach Shimla, but move no further.
Top BJP and Congress leaders, including Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Pramod Mahajan, Mohsina Kidwai and R K Dhawan, are holed up in various hotels in the state, most of them in the Peter Hoff hotel in Shimla.
The 12 Congress MLAs from Uttar Pradesh, brought here ostensibly as observers, are also stuck in the same hotel.
The Congress had to cancel the rallies, to be addressed by party president Sonia Gandhi, scheduled for February 18 and 19.
If this weather persists, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's February 20 rally in Shimla is also likely to be cancelled.
BJP leader Pramod Mahajan said that the bad weather would affect all parties and have no impact on the outcome of the polls. What is to be seen is how long it will last.
In case it persists till February 26, the day of polling, a low voter turnout can be expected, which is likely to benefit the cadre-based BJP, he said.
Locals, however, say the bad weather would not last more than two days.
Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh is stuck in Mandi, waiting to accompany Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the campaign trail in nearby areas.
His secretary A N Barowalia told rediff.com that while Mandi is not experiencing snowfall, heavy rains have restricted Singh to his hotel, where he is meeting party workers.
There are reports of rains in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana too.
More reports from Himachal Pradesh