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Thursday, February 2, 2023

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Do the tea leaves mean victory? Shimla Chai salesman and BJP candidate Sanjay Sood hope so

For 30 years he has been making tea for customers in his shop at a bus stop here, waking up in the morning and working late into the evening. Now Sanjay Sood is testing the political waters as the BJP candidate from Shimla Urban seat.

Will a reading of the tea leaves predict victory? Sood would certainly hope so.

“I’ve worked hard,” said Sood, who in the past served as the president of the BJP’s Shimla district and the treasurer of the state unit.

He expressed confidence that the BJP will maintain power in Himachal Pradesh based on development work carried out by the party in the state.

Shimla district consists of eight assembly seats – Shimla (Urban), Shimla (Rural), Chaupal, Jubbal Kotkhai, Kasumpti, Rampur, Rohru and Theog.

Although Sood has been campaigning in recent weeks, he took the time to pour hot cups for many BJP leaders, including Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, who stopped by his tea shop.

A total of seven candidates are in the fray, including Harish Janartha of the Congress, Tikender Singh Panwar of the CPI(M) and Chaman Rakesh of the AAP.

During his poll campaign, Janartha had targeted the BJP for what he said were hollow claims of development.

“In most places there are parking problems, there is a problem of traffic jams. Shimla is a tourist destination with many visitors every day, so traffic needs to be managed accordingly. There are problems with water. When Congress comes to power, we will formulate a plan that will be implemented district by district,” he said.

Many small merchants like Sood hope the new government will address their problems, which range from high garbage collection rates to underemployment during the harsh winter season.

Dileep Gupta, who runs a grocery store here, said the government should lower waste collection and electricity rates for small retailers like him.

Amar Singh, a ‘pani puri’ salesman, said: “As the harsh winter season approaches, I will have to take a break from work for about two months as very few customers come. The government must find a way to help people like me during this period.” Elections for the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly will be held on November 12 and the results will be announced on December 8.

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