For Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Sukhwinder Sukhu, it’s make or break poll
Sukhvinder Sukhu has fought thrice from Nadaun and won twice; rebel candidate may queer the pitch for BJP nominee Vijay Agnihotri in the segment.HimachalPradeshElection2017 Updated: Nov 04, 2017 14:48 IST
For Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) chief Sukhwinder Sukhu, the party candidate from Nadaun assembly segment of Hamirpur district, the polls are a decisive battle which would decide his political fate in Himachal politics.
Sukhu, who has remained at loggerheads with chief minister Virbhadra Singh ever since he was elevated as the HPCC chief in 2013, though appears to be in a comfortable position, especially because the rebel candidate from BJP, Lekh Raj Sharma, who is an ex-servicemen, is also in the fray.
But the BJP seems to have got a push in the last two days, especially after the declaration of Prem Kumar Dhumal as the party’s chief ministerial face. The former chief minister enjoys a great following in the constituency and the BJP workers in Hamirpur have started seeking votes in the name of Dhumal from the district.
Sukhu, a grassroots worker of the Congress party and an organisational man, is facing BJP’s first-timer MLA and former student leader of the BJP Vijay Agnihotri, who had defeated the HPCC chief with a margin of votes in 2012. Sukhu, who has started his political career as student leader of NSUI, won the seat twice in the last three polls.
The repeated barbs at him by Virbhadra, as per Congress leaders from Nadaun, have only made Sukhu a “strong leader” and they feel Sukhu is has benefited immensely by not budging before the chief minister.
However, there are some voices in the Nadaun Congress unit, who feel that Sukhu’s direct tussle with Virbhadra Singh may damage his chances from the seat.
“Sukhu’s relationship with the chief minister remained sour throughout the last five years. And this was the reason why he couldn’t bring major projects for the area despite being a head of the ruling party. It will be interesting to see, if the tussle with Raja Saab (Virbhadra) pays him or proves dear,” feels Ram Krishan Sharma, a small trader in Dhaneta.
Many political observers term the Nadaun battle as a “do or die” for Sukhu.
“If Sukhu wins, he will be a hero and will challenge the authority of Virbhadra who has always demeaned him as the HPCC chief. However, if he loses from the seat, the second defeat in a row can put his political future in doldrums,” feels a Congress supporter in a village.
Sukhu, however, is confident of his victory and is seeking votes on the basis of development works done by him.
“The MLA you elected last year has not done anything. He has not even raised a single issue in the Vidhan Sabha properly. However, I brought a degree college, a modern ITI and many other developmental projects for the constituency,” said Sukhu while addressing a nukkad meeting in village Jalari.
His opponent and sitting MLA Vijay Agnihotri, however, is seen taking potshots at Sukhu for his absence from the seat. “As an MLA belonging to the opposition party, I have always been actively in touch with the people of the area. Where was Sukhu in the last five years. He hardly visited the segment because he was busy in the Congress party affairs,” says Agnihotri in a meeting of his supporters in Nadaun.
BJP rebel Lekh Raj Sharma, is posing a threat for the saffron party’s chances as he is a sitting zila parishad member of the party and people of the region say, he has worked dedicatedly for the poor people. Being an ex-serviceman from the segment, which has a remarkable number of ex-faujis, both BJP and the Congress are eying his campaigning closely.