Churning In Himachal As Political Parties Gear Up For The 2019 Lok Sabha Elections

In 2014 general elections for Lok Sabha the voters of Himachal supported BJP and gave all the four seats of Mandi, Kangra, Shimla and Hamirpur to the Modi wave that swept the region. The voters had also made their intentions clear that they wanted to change the then Virbhadra Singh lead Congress government in the state assembly election that was held late in 2017.

In Lok Sabha Elections 2014 ,the Modi wave was so strong that even Pratibha Singh, wife of Virbhadra Singh lost her seat in home constituency of Mandi to a fresh BJP candidate Ram Swarup Sharma with margin of 39796 votes. Former Himachal Chief Minister Shanta Kumar of BJP defeated Chander Kumar of Congress by 1,70,072 votes to record his fourth win from the Kangra constituency. Virender Kashyap won Shimla Lok Sabha seat for BJP by 84187 votes. This was his second consecutive victory from the constituency. BJP candidate from Hamirpur, Anurag Thakur won his seat by 98403 votes by defeating congress candidate Rajender Singh Rana. He has won this seat in all three elections he fought from Hamirpur.

In coming Lok Sabha elections of 2019 , the scenario seems to have changed a lot for Congress, as compared to last Lok Sabha elections of 2014. Most of the leading Congress leaders like Sudhir Sharma, G S Bali, Kaul Singh Thakur and others are now available for Lok Sabha elections after their defeats in assembly. BJP in all probability is likely field its sitting MPs for the poll.

For the Mandi seat former minister Kaul Singh Thakur and former MP Pratibha Singh are the two front runners for the Congress ticket. Though Kaul Singh has refused to fight the election, but a sections of public of the area want him as the Congress candidate. Kullu‘s royal family man Maheshwar Singh along with ex-serviceman Brig (Retd) Kushal Thakur are in the race for the BJP Ticket, along with sitting MP Ram Swarup Sharma. Apart from this, new political entrant the multimillionaire independent MLA Parkash Rana of Joginder Nagar is also reported to be preparing to enter the field.

In Kangra, the octogenarian senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar had let his intentions be known about hanging up his boots from electoral politics. He is also said to be hurt by the Central BJP leadership having ignored him and sidelined him from the ministries line-up right from day 1 of Modi’s government . If BJP goes without Shanta, then the other leaders eying the ticked include the Mahila Morcha state president Indu Goswami from Baijnath, who is said to be close to the Prime Minister. Others in the fray are senior BJP leader Ravinder Ravi, Ramesh Dhawala and Shanta’s close associate the Ex MLA Parveen Kumar. For any new comer to gain the confidence of voters which Shanta has in the area will be a uphill task.

In the Congress the contest for the ticket is between senior leader G S Bali and the newly appointed national congress secretary Sudhir Sharma for Kangra seat. Both Bali and Sudhir were cabinet ministers in previous Himachal government and lost out in Vidhan Shabha elections.

From Hamirpur, BJP is all set to field sitting MP Anurag Thakur who won this seat in the past three elections. Ex MLA from Ghumarwin Rajesh Dharmani seems to be a single choice of Congress so far. There are few other aspirant leaders in both the parties for this seat .

For the Shimla, BJP party source reveal that though Virender Kashyap may have won the seat twice, but he could be dropped this time to make way for a lady candidate. The Congress may bet for Vinod Sultanpuri or Dhani Ram Shandil.

Arvind Sharma is an award winning bi-lingual journalist with more than 20 years of experience. He has worked with Divya Himachal, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhasker, Vir Partap, Ajit and PTI. In 2010, he was conferred the Himachal Kesri journalism award. He reports on the Tibetan Government in Exile, politics, sports, tourism and other topics. He lives in Dharamshala.

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