Dhumal rides on ‘Sujanpur dega CM’ factor against friend-turned-foe Rajinder Rana
A former BJP leader, Rana remained the right-hand man of Dhumal for many years before he turned a rebel and thus he knows the leaders’ political and campaign strategies inside out.HimachalPradeshElection2017 Updated: Nov 07, 2017 15:36 IST
The Sujanpur assembly constituency, from where the BJP’s two-time former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal is contesting, was considered a “difficult battle” until Dhumal was declared the party’s chief ministerial face.
It’s an open secret in the state BJP unit that Dhumal, who contested the last assembly polls from Hamirpur assembly segment, was not willing to contest from Sujanpur seat and wanted to stick to the Hamirpur segment, which he represented in the last assembly.
“I have been working in the constituency for the past five years. Dhumal ji has arrived here only a few days ago. If he thinks that people will be misled by his stature, he is mistaken”
But the party forced him to contest from the seat, which was considered tough because the Congress nominee from the seat, Rajinder Rana, is believed to have nurtured it “quite well”.
A former BJP leader, Rana remained the right-hand man of Dhumal for many years before he turned a rebel and thus he knows the leaders’ political and campaign strategies inside out. This is the main reason why BJP strategists are not taking him lightly.
Rana, who had won the seat in 2012 assembly polls as an independent candidate, had resigned as an MLA after he decided to contest from the Hamirpur parliamentary seat on a Congress ticket in 2014, which he lost to Anurag.
“Rana ditched the people of his constituency for personal gains. He has been shifting loyalties as per his need and convenience and people will not trust him again.”
Rana then fielded his wife in the bypoll against BJP’s Narender Thakur in May 2014 but she too lost.
Sujanpur residents say that since then, Rana has spent a lot of time in the segment fighting for the people.
However, there is an underlying feeling among the voters of the segment that since Dhumal will be the chief minister if BJP is voted to power, then why should they vote for the Congress candidate.
“There is no doubt that Rana was active among us and used his proximity to CM Virbhadra Singh to bring some development in the region. However, we cannot deny the fact that having the CM from our own constituency will be a major boost for us and will definitely provide more power and development in the area,” said Pushpinder Thakur, a shopkeeper in Sujanpur.
Rana, however, is leaving no stone unturned to put up a strong fight against his ex-boss Dhumal.
“I have been working in the constituency for the past five years. Dhumal ji has arrived here only a few days ago. If he thinks that people will be misled by his stature, he is mistaken. He might be a big name but people of this constituency know him and his family well; they will show the Dhumal family its real place in the elections,” Rana told Hindustan Times.
Meanwhile, for Dhumal, who is campaigning across the state, his youngest son Arun Dhumal is leading the campaign.
Hours after Dhumal was declared the BJP’s CM face, the party strategists installed hoardings with slogans like “Sujanpur Dega CM” and “Abki baar, Sujanpur se sarkaar.”
Dhumal’s elder son and Hamirpur MP Anurag Tahkur, has also roped in an army of young leaders which include a few faces from Delhi and Punjab, to campaign at the constituency.
Dhumal’s son, Arun, however, is banking upon his father’s big stature and the development he has carried out in Hamirpur district during his two terms as the CM.
Accusing Rana of continuously shifting loyalties, Arun says, “Rana had ditched the people of his constituency for his personal gains and the masses have not forgotten it. He has been shifting loyalties as per his need and convenience and people will not trust him again.”
Promising overall development, Dhumal’s son, Arun, tells voters, “If Dhumal ji wins the seat, Sujanpur will be at the helm of affairs and will become the new power centre.”
Arun goes on to rule out the possibility of Rana in putting up a tough fight against Dhumal claiming, “It is a one-sided affair and the battle is only of the margin.
Dhumal is not new to the segment as around 40/% of Sujanpur segment was part of erstwhile Bamsun constituency which was scrapped after delimitation. Dhumal had represented this segment thrice.