Mandi: Stakes for Congress that won the state assembly election here five months ago are higher for the upcoming Mandi by-poll whereas it comes as an opportunity for BJP to refurbish its image ahead of the June 2014 general parliamentary elections.
The election likely to be announce soon has come at a crucial juncture as Virbhadra Singh on being elected chief minister had to vacate the seat that he represented in parliament.
Fresh from victory in the assembly polls, Congress appears confident about its victory with Pratibha Singh (wife of chief minister Virbhadra Singh) as the undeclared party candidate for seat is already out touring the constituency.
She has even made an ‘unofficial’ announcement about her candidature at State Red Cross Society function a few days ago.
There is still a vacancy in the Virbhadra cabinet and Karan Singh, the legislator from Banjar, in all likelihood would fill the slot soon.
With traditional BJP candidate Maheshwar Singh having deserted the party and floated a regional out, the opposition is finding it tough to settle for a suitable challenger as Jairam Thakur, a former minister is said to have refused to contest by-poll.
Jairam who has won the assembly poll four consecutive times is considered a strong candidate but his reluctance has put BJP in trouble.
To face the Congress onslaught BJP is contemplating putting up Ramswaroop Sharma, a senior vice president of the party or Ajay Rana, a BJP spokesman.
The burden of contesting the polls may ultimately fall on Ramswaroop Sharma. Both Sharma and Rana belong to Mandi district but they have to contest any election.
Sceptics hold that Sharma or Rana were light weight compared and only Jairam Thakur to put up a fight on the seat.
Rajiv Bindal, BJP general secretary says that this by poll has become prestige issue for ruling congress, who have lost their sheen within three of rule in the state.
“We would definitely gain in the poll, public is terrorised with the working of government, said Bindal.
Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP), the outfit floated by Maheshwar Singh, has a strong presence on the seat and could work against BJPs campaign in Mandi as HLP has announced about not contesting the by-poll..
Government plans to revive the Himalayan Ski Village project ahead of the crucial elections could cost the Congress dear for much of Kullu valley is opposed to the large scale tourism project.
Though the government did attempt to clear the fog about the project but not many are convinced.
Saurabh Chauhan, an independent journalist, has 10 years of experience in Print and Digital Media. He has written on a variety of issues including women’s rights, environment, crime, governance, finance and politics at Shimla, Chandigarh and Lucknow. Saurabh is currently based in Lucknow.