Newly-carved Sujanpur assembly segment in Hamirpur district is set for an interesting and rare evenly-poised triangular contest.
Here, national Mahila Congress president Anita Verma is pitted against Urmil Thakur of the BJP, sitting MLA from Hamirpur constituency. The presence of BJP rebel Rajinder Rana, who is contesting as an Independent, has made the contest three-cornered. Rana is former spokesman of the state BJP and former chairman of media co-ordination committee of the state government.
The segment comprises a big portion (42 polling booths) of now-abolished Bamsan constituency, which was represented by chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, and is considered a bastion of the BJP, but the entry of Rana has made the seat "tough" for the BJP.
Rana, till the finalisation of BJP tickets, was considered a close associate of Dhumal and was nourishing the constituency for years. But after Dhumal opted to contest from Hamirpur, the party had to field its sitting Hamirpur MLA Urmil Thakur from Sujanpur.
A businessman, Rana enjoys good rapport with the people of the area as he has been carrying out social work in the segment for many years.
Anita Verma, who has suffered a defeat at the hands of Urmil Thakur in 2007 from Hamirpur seat, is trying to exploit the BJP 'infighting' to her advantage. She was active in the constituency for the past three years. But the party has no specific issue to rattle the minds of the electorates.
The only thing that can set the tide in Urmil's favour is the popularity of chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. She is the daughter-in-law of former BJP stalwart late Jagdev Chand.
But the Congress candidate seems confidant of the victory, alleging that BJP failed to accelerate the pace of development in the district.
"Despite all the hype for being the chief minister's home district, the area has been ignored completely. Slogans like "Kaho Dil Say, BJP Phir Se" has no meaning in these hilly lanes as the people of the area are feeling cheated and duped by the BJP government. During last five years, the condition of roads of this constituency has worsened, while many of the areas lack drinking water facility," Verma said.
As per political pundits, Rana who has remained active in the area for the past 3-4 years, has a strong grip over women, youth and ex-servicemen voters. Every vote gained by him is a loss to the BJP.
"Loyalty towards the party matters more than anything else and you people know this. BJP government had carried out several development works in the constituency under Dhumal ji and I am sure you will vote for me as a reward to the works done by the BJP government," says Urmil, while interacting with people in Kakkar area.
While, ruling out all speculations of political observers, Rana says he is destined to win. "I failed to get the party ticket but I have the ticket of the people who are behind me. I have been active in the area for long. I am not a leader but a member of your family," says Rana to th residents of Patlandar village. However, he refrains from attacking Dhumal or the BJP government.
Since, more than 20,000 voters of Bamsan are now part of Sujanpur, political observers feel that the results of this seat will depend purely upon Dhumal's "will" to mobilise the cadres.
Name of the Constituency: Sujanpur
Total Votes: 64,208
Last assembly election winner: New constituency
Deciding issues: Road connectivity, employment generation in the area, water supply in far-flung areas.
X-factor: Around 20,000 voters of now-abolished Bamsan constituency, which was represented by CM Dhumal, are now part of the Sujanpur segment.