HP: BJP, Congress stalwarts stay put to defend turf

Delimitation, rebels and anti-incumbency are making bigwigs of both the ruling BJP and Congress stay put in their own constituencies. With their own prestige at stake, stalwarts are hardly venturing out to campaign for lesser known faces or weaker candidates of their parties in other areas.

State BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti, who is contesting his third election from Una, has so far remained entrenched in his constituency. Delimitation has added to Satti's anxiety. Santoshgarh nagar panchayat, earlier in Santoshgarh constituency, has been merged into Una.

This area has traditionally been a Congress stronghold. Apart from this, the Congress's new face Satpal Singh Raizada is said to be gaining ground. Another high profile leader and former transport minister, Congress's GS Bali, who is contesting elections from Nagrota Bagwan, is facing a tough time at the hands of party rebel Arun Mehra alias Kuka and BJP's Mangal Chaudhary. Bali, so far, has not moved out of his constituency. "I plan to canvass in nearby Baijnath," Bali told HT.

At 85, Congress legislature party leader Vidya Stokes is engaged in the toughest political battle of her 38-year political career in Thoeg. Stokes is locked in a four-cornered contest - with BJP's Rakesh Verma, CPM's Rakesh Singha and TMC's Pramod Sharma.

Apart from HPCC president Virbhadra Singh, who is the lone star campaigner among state leaders, only former HPCC president Viplove Thakur is campaigning for other candidates.

CM Prem Kumar Dhumal and his MP son Anurag Thakur are holding fort for the BJP, along with party's national vice-president Shanta Kumar.


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