PALAMPUR – An interesting electoral battle is being fought in Sulaha, one of the important constituencies of Kangra district. There is four-corner contest in this constituency. Mr. Jagjivan Pal, Vice Chairman State Civil supply corporation is congress candidate; Vipan Parmar is contesting the election on BJP ticket, while Lekh Raj Rana and C.D. Singh Guleria have been fielded by LOJPA and BSP respectively.
Sulaha constituency has its own significance in political arena as it has given first Chief Minister to state from merged areas in 1977. Basically this is home constituency of Shanta Kumar whose native village Garh Jamula falls in this constituency. He had won four elections from this assembly segment and reached to office of Chief Minister of the state thrice. However, he also faced defeat in the hands of late Man Chand Rana congress leader twice from Sulaha.
Mr. Shanta Kumar did not contest the assembly elections in 1998 and 2003 from Sulaha as he was member parliament and union minister in the cabinet of A.B Vajpayee at that time, then BJP allotted its ticket to ABVP leader Vipan Parmar, who with the blessing of Shanta Kumar won this seat in 1998 assembly elections by defeating congress stalwart Jagjivan Pal by a narrow margin of 125 votes.
However, soon after getting elected to state assembly Vipan Parmar changed his loyalties and joined the Prem Kumar Dhumal camp, who appointed him Vice Chairman H.P. State Khadi Gramoudyog Board. But in the 2003 he lost the assembly election as it was not possible for him to win this seat without the support of Shanta Kumar who had strong influence in this constituency, he had to pay heavy price and had to face the wrath of voters of Sulaha. He was trounced by congress candidate Jagjivan Pal by a big margin of 11000 votes, highest figure in the region.
In the ensuing assembly polls Mr. Parmar has realized the blunder committed in year 2003 and he has again come back in the shelter of Shanta Kumar. The Sulaha constituency is divided in two parts, that is Palam and Changer. Palam is prosperous area of the Sulaha while Changer is considered as backward part situated on the dry hills, lacking development activities like proper schools, roads and drinking water supply.
BJP has its strong footings in the Changer as Mr. Shanta Kumar during his tenure as Chief Minister laid much stress on the development of Changer and provided drinking water to the people here. Earlier people had to carry drinking water from two to three kilometers distance. He also connected this area with roads. But in Palam belt which is developed part of Sulaha comprising Khera, Bhora, Dheera, Nora and Garh Daroh areas congress commands good influence.
There is virtually a straight fight between Mr. Parmar (BJP) and Jagjivan (Pal congress). Mr. Pal is giving a tough fight to Mr. Parmar. Being a sitting congress MLA, Pal has stronghold in the area. He is known as honest politician. As stated he does not accept even a cup of tea from any body in the constituency. He is quite popular among the OBCc, government employees and Rajputs of the constituency. Being a low profile and without any ego he is easily approachable.
On the other hand Mr. Parmar is young and energetic youth leader and at present is also President of Kangra district BJP unit. He is making all efforts to influence the voters in his favor. He is banking upon the development works executed by him when he was MLA during year 1998 to 2003. Besides, he is also posing him self a true representative of Shanta Kumar, who had asked him to contest the election from Sulaha. Mr. Shanta Kumar is yet to visit Sulaha. Parmar has expectations that after the visit of Mr. Shanta Kumar, BJP will improve its position and make him comfortable.
Both Mr. Parmar and Mr. Pal are now doing door to door canvassing in the constituency and making efforts to woo the voters in their favor. They have not organized any big meeting so far. No state level or national level leaders have visited the Sulah. Prem Kumar Dhumal is likely to visit Sulaha next week.
Till today BSP of Mayawati LOJPA of Ram Vilas Paswan seems no where in the fray. These two parties will not cut much ice here as the fight is only between BJP and congress. BSP and LOJPA will close the contest in few hundred votes only.
Vipin Parmar photo by Yash Raj.