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Himachal Home Game: BJP’s Fight against Anti-Incumbency Vs Congress’s Battle for Survival

By: Pragya Kaushika

Edited By: Manjiri Joshi

News18.com

Last Updated: October 19, 2022, 16:07 IST

New Delhi, India

The BJP's campaign is led by PM Modi, while Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is leading the march for the Congress in Himachal Pradesh. (Twitter)

The BJP's campaign is led by PM Modi, while Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is leading the march for the Congress in Himachal Pradesh. (Twitter)

While the saffron unit has been leading a high-decibel campaign, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress’s campaign trail has been low-profile marred by factionalism

The Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls are seemingly a close contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. While the saffron unit has been leading a high-decibel campaign, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress’s campaign trail has been low-profile marred by factionalism.

Sources said the BJP’s denial of ticket to 11 of its sitting legislators in the list announced on Wednesday points towards the party’s attempts to end the anti-incumbency factor, which, many believe, plays a huge role in Himachal voting out the incumbent government.

The BJP has laid the foundation of its campaign to change the norm of the state, just like it did successfully in the Uttarakhand elections. With the Congress giving a tough fight on many seats, leaders believe that changing candidates to ward off anti-incumbency had to be done.

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During the upcoming contest, the Congress is missing the leadership of stalwarts like Virbhadra Singh. However, the state leadership feels it can take on the BJP successfully and will receive the support of common people who are suffering from alleged inflation and corruption under the present government.

CONTESTS TO WATCH OUT FOR

While BJP has issued the list for 62 assemblies out of 68, the Congress has come out with a list for 46 seats. However, the contests to watch out will be where the top leaders of both the parties are fighting. Senior leaders from both the parties maintain the fight on these seats will be aggressive and brutal.

There are seats like Seraj, which is sitting CM Jairam Thakur’s seat, where little contest is expected from Congress’s Chetram Thakur.

All eyes will be on Bilaspur seat as well, which is identified with J P Nadda, the BJP’s national president. The BJP has fielded Trilok Jamwal, sitting MLA and general secretary in the state, whereas the Congress is yet to declare its candidate.

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Chamba, too, will see an interesting contest as Indira Kapoor, BJP candidate, is said to have been backed by former Congress leader Harsh Mahajan, who enjoys clout in the area. The Congress has fielded Neeraj Nayyar.

In Dalhousie, Congress leader Asha Kumari seems to enjoy a good rapport. The BJP has fielded D S Thakur from the seat and many believe the Congress has an edge over the BJP on this seat.

The BJP has fielded Rakesh Pathania, a minister in the Jairam Thakur cabinet, from Fatehpur. He would be contesting against Bhawani Singh Pathania. Pathania was a sitting MLA from Nurpur.

From Kangra, the BJP has fielded former working Congress chief Pawan Kajal.

Dharamshala, too, will witness an interesting contest as the BJP has fielded Rakesh Chaudhary, a Congress rebel who has joined the BJP.

Congress Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu is contesting from Nadaun seat and will be contesting against Vijay Agnihotri. Caste factor is crucial here as it is considered a contest between Rajputs and Brahmins.

This time, the BJP has given ticket to Rajat Thakur, son of Mahendra Singh, a minister in Thakur’s government, from Dharampur.

P K Dhuma’s Sujanpur is being contested by retired Captain Ranjeet Singh, who is considered to have got ticket after Dhumal’s blessings. The Congress is yet to name a candidate.

Suresh Bhardwaj, law minister in Thakur’s government, too, has got ticket but his seat has been changed to Kasumpati, where the Congress has given ticket to Anuirudh Singh. Bhardwaj wanted to contest form Shimla, his traditional seat.

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Four other seats that will be keenly watched by both the Congress and BJP will be Sillai, Renuka and Pachhad and Paonta Sahib. These are the seats where Hatti community is in significant numbers and Union minister Amit Shah had addressed the community accepting thanks to include them in tribal category. ​

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