Star campaigners to hit poll scene in Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun: Notwithstanding the biting cold, political bigwigs and Bollywood stars are ready to hit the election scene in the run-up to January 30 Assembly polls in Uttarakhand. From Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to BJP President Nitin Gadkari, most political heavyweights are coming to the hill state to drum up support for their parties.

To begin with, Congress President Sonia Gandhi would kick-start her party`s campaign tomorrow from Tehri, much of which has already met the watery grave. This will be the first rally of the UPA chairperson, who could not address two earlier scheduled political meetings. She is also expected to hold a separate rally in Roorkee in Haridwar district tomorrow.

On earlier occasions, Gandhi could not address a public rally at Gauchar in Garhwal region in November last year due to health reasons. She again failed to turn up at Haldwani early this month, this time due to poor weather conditions. Later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would address two rallies in Uttarakhand at Rishikesh and Rudrapur on January 20, Congress spokesman Surendra Kumar said.

After his successful rally at Dehra Dun last month, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is also expected to address a series of rallies to drum up support for his party, which is locked in a close contest with BJP in the hill state. In order to cash in on the appeal of film stars, Congress is banking on its leaders like Raj Babbar, the saffron party has already booked its star campaigner Shatrughan Sinha, former dream girl Hema Malini and TV star Smriti Irani.

Besides, Singh and Gandhis, other senior Congress ministers and leaders like Pranab Mukherjee, Ghulam Nabi Azad, C P Joshi and others would also seek votes for Congress. On the other hand, BJP is also banking on its top leaders like L K Advani, Gadkari, Murli Manohar Joshi, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitely and Sushma Swaraj. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is also expected woo voters on the name of Hindutva as well as the development plank.

Both Congress and BJP parties are also trying to contact other top Bollywood stars like Shahrukh Khan, Ritik Roshan and Katrina Kaif to come to Uttarakhand. Similarly from other parties, Samajwadi party leader Mulayam Singh yadav, Uttar Pradesh chief Minister Mayawati and Trinamool Congress chief Mamta Banerjee are also likely to address rallies in support of their party candidates.