HAMIRPUR: With BJP has already announced its decision to field sitting MP, Anurag Thakur as its candidate from Hamirpur Lok sabha seat of state, the Congress that lost this seat in the bye election twice is in fix over the choice of its candidate for the seat. It is badly divided over the name of the candidate as the party doesn’t want to loose this seat once again. The party has failed to win this seat since year 1989. It has lost thrice since 2004 Lok sabha elections.
There are about one dozen aspirants for the Congress seat. However, the party feels that none of them is capable to match the personality of Anurag Thakur, the sitting MP of BJP. The Congress party is trying to field a former BJP man, Narendra Thakur as its candidate to give a challenge to the sitting MP. Narendra belongs to Hamirpur district. However, a major section of the party is opposed to giving ticket to Narendra Thakur. This section says that if any outsider is to be fielded, its cadre will be demoralized. It wants any young man to be fielded from the seat and that too from Hamirpur district.
While Anurag Thakur is the son of the Chief Minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal, Narendra Thakur is the son of another former BJP leader, Late Jagdev Chand Thakur. Narendra Thakur was ousted from party in year 1998 for opposing his elder sister-in-law in the assembly elections. However, he was admitted to the party fold later on following pressure by a section of the party workers. However, he left the party to join the Congress in view of better political prospectus there.
Insiders in the Congress told this reporter that the name of Narendra Thakur was being sent to the party high command as the main contender for the seat. Party’s other choice and sitting MLA from Nadaun, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhoo has refused to contest the election. The names of Ranjeet Singh Verma, former Minister, OP Rattan, the party spokesman and who lost the bye election to Anurag Thakur, Sunil Sharma Bittu, the Hamirpur district Congress President and Rakesh Kalia, MLA from Una are in the air for the party ticket.,
Sources in the Congress say that during a meeting of the party leaders at Shimla in which R.K.Dhawan, the party’s in-charge for the Himachal Pradesh affairs was also present, Narendra Thakur was also allowed to be present in the meeting as a special case. Though he didn’t utter any word during the marathon meeting yet he was introduced to the party boss and even others present in the meeting making all to understand that he (Narendra) may be the ultimate choice of the party for the Hamirpur seat.
In last bye election to Hamirpur seat, Anurag Thakur had defeated OP Rattan of Congress by about 1.75 lakh votes.
There is general feeling in the Congress camp that Narendra Thakur can cut into the vote bank of the BJP due to his past relations with the party leaders and cadre besides the vote bank of the Congress party. He was one of the close pals of Shanta Kumar, the All India Vice resident of the BJP before joining the Congress.
However, there are reports that those opposing Narendra Thakur have already approached Sonia Gandhi, the All India Congress Supremo and her son, Rahul Gandhi, the All India General secretary of the party, demanding ticket to anyone other than Narendra Thakur. They have reminded the high command that if any grass root party worker is fielded, he can be groomed for the coming elections, even if he looses this time. There is no fun to give ticket to any outsider, who had joined the party with the understanding that he will work for it for next five years and will not claim any ticket or berth in the organization. They have also told the top leaders that if the party ticket was given to Narendra Thakur, the party will be digging its own grave in the Hamirpur district, which is the stronghold of the BJP.
Whatever may be the decision of the Congress party high command, one thing is sure that it is losing its ground day by day by not announcing the name of its candidate for the Hamirpur seat. The BJP candidate on other hand had launched a vigorous campaign in the field and has even covered all parts of the constituency. He is also having the support of the party MLA’s and other leaders being the son of the Chief Minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal.