The Indelible Mark Left on Himachal Pradesh by These Swansong Players
As a fallout, the 2017 Himachal Pradesh elections might be the final political stretch for a few names that have been synonymous with hill state for decades.
Several prominent Himachal leaders might have to end their political run with a bitter after taste. (Image: Network18 Creatives)
New Delhi: The Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections might have taken the expected route for most political analysts but has left a bittersweet aftertaste for both BJP and Congress.
While the Grand Old Party lost Himachal to BJP, young leaders like Vikramaditya Singh won their individual fights. The BJP, on the other hand, was faced with much embarrassment as their chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal lost the election against Congress' Rajinder Rana.
Not just Dhumal, other prominent BJP leaders like its state unit chief Satpal Satti, Ghulab Singh Thakur and Ravinder Ravi, too, lost the election.
As a fallout, the 2017 state elections might be the final political stretch for a few names that have been synonymous with hill state for decades.
PREM KUMAR DHUMAL
Two-time chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal tops the list. A successor to veteran politician Jagdev Chand, Dhumal fought from the Hamirpur seat after Jagdev Chand refused it in 1984. After Chand’s death, Dhumal became active in Himachal politics and soon began his stint as the state BJP chief.
He became the chief minister for the first time in 1998 and continued till 2003. Interestingly, the central BJP leader in-charge of the state in the run-up to the 2003 polls was none other than Narendra Modi, who before returning to Gujarat politics, was in-charge of Himachal Pradesh.
After losing out to Virbhadra Singh in the next elections, Dhumal was back for a second stint as the CM in 2007. As part of his legacy, Dhumal is popularly known as the 'Sadak Wala Mukhya Mantri', for the numerous road projects he undertook during his first tenure.
RAJA VIRBHADRA SINGH
The chief minister with the highest number of terms, Virbhadra Singh has occupied the state’s highest seat for a record six terms. The Bishop Cotton and St Stephens alumnus has long been the bedrock on which Congress stood a solid ground in Himachal for decades.
While his charisma and experience in unparalleled, his adversaries have accused the Raja of Rampur-Bushhar of a 'feudal temperament' and 'inflexible manner of functioning'.
The widely held belief about the octogenarian is that he was one of the biggest driving forces behind the state's growth in literacy rate and health infrastructure.
Vidya Stokes' grandfather Satyanand Stokes was known for bringing the first apple trees to Himachal and revolutionising the hill state’s economy.
Vidya, though, has built her own legacy as an eight-time MLA. President of Hockey India, Director of State Bank of India, President of State Co-operative Union and India's representative to the Asian Women’s Co-operative Conference in Kuala-Lumpur are just some of the feathers in her cap.
The 2017 Assembly election, though, did not go as per plan. While Stokes had initially claimed that she wanted to retire and not contest the elections, the Congress subsequently fielded youth leader Deepak Rathore and Stokes changed her mind and filed her nomination papers. The papers were rejected on the grounds that the Returning Officer had already accepted Rathore’s nomination.
The Theog seat eventually was won by the CPI(M).
KAUL SINGH THAKUR
Another such name is the popular Himachal Congress face, Kaul Singh Thakur, who despite being the state's Health and Family Welfare Minister could not hold on to Drang constituency and will probably be replaced by the party's young cadre for the next elections.
The eight-time Assembly member has served as the Pradesh Congress President of Himachal for two terms and been the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president second time in a row.
With a career spanning four decades, the advocate and horticulturist will leave big shoes to fill for the Congress.
One of the biggest hits that the BJP took in Himachal was Shanta Kumar’s loss after Prem Kumar Dhumal’s big defeat. A former chief minister, Kumar was the backup plan that the party had, in case of a setback with Dhumal.
Born in Himachal's Kangra district, Shanta Kumar has been in the political circles since 1963. An avid writer, he has more than a dozen books in his name.
Other than being the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh in 1977, Kumar was also the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution and Union Minister of Rural Development.
As the swansong for the state stalwarts’ plays out and the next-in-line take over, the indelible mark left by old guard can only be applauded.
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