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Kangra district: An interesting battlefield since the bygone ages

india Updated: Oct 05, 2012 18:18 IST
Naresh K Thakur
Naresh K Thakur
Hindustan Times
Naresh K Thakur

Right from the invasion of Mahmud of Ghajni in AD 1009, to the offensive by Mughal emperor, Janhagir in 1622 to the post- independence politics, Kangra- has always remained an interesting battlefield.

Having the oldest serving Royal Dynasty in the world- Katoch Clan-, with Tika Ambikheswar, grandson of Jodhpur MP Chandresh Kumari, as the 490the scion in the lineage decent, Kangra- which was mentioned as Trigarta Kingdom in Mahabharata epic has the distinction of tilting political scales ever since it was merged in Himachal Pradesh in 1966.

The ear -shaped Kangra fort (Kangra word is derive from Kan- ear and Garha – fort) has been a witness to everything that happened in the state politics after 1967 and how the district emerged as deciding factor in formation of governments.

It was the for the first time after the merger of Kangra, that Congrss stalwart, YS Parmar who was instrumental in formation of state of Himachal, faced a challenge in 1967 and 1972 from his own party-men Kultar Chand, Dr Shaligram and Ram Singh all three from Kangra.

However, Dr Parmar was intelligent enough to handle the situation and the dissidents tried a lot but could never get that much support to create a trouble him- though they tried a lot. Had the Kangra legislatures withdrawn their support Kangra would a seen a chief minister from the district.

With rise of Janta Party (JNP) in 1977, state saw the first chief minister from Kangra, as Shanta Kumar formed the first non- congress government in hill state. Janta Party won in 14 out of 16 constituencies.

However, as the party was conglomeration of leaders of - Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) background and those who have split from Congress or other parties, so there were differences right from the beginning. Non- RSS leaders were opposed to the RSS background CM, Shanta Kumar.
Internal elections in the party saw a tie for CM’s post as Shanta Kumar and Thakur Ranjeet Singh get equal votes. However, Singh was MP at that time so he
couldn’t vote and Shanta won the battle as his own vote became the deciding factor.

Split in Janta Party saw Shanta government falling flat and it that led to and Kangra witnessed the formation of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) in Jawalmuhkhi.
In 1982 election BJP won 10 out of 16 seats in Kangra and was almost in position to form the government with total with 29 legislature but the independents played the spoiler game, while in 85 congress won 11 seats to and formed the government.

Assembly election in 1990 BJP again rose to the power and Shanta became the tallest leader as major share of the seats won by the party was from Kangra.
After the government was sacked by centre in December 1992 after Babri Masjid demolition BJP faced humiliating defeat. Kangra started a new trend in the state politics that was the defeat of sitting chief minister. Shanta Kumar lost from Sulah to Congress light weight, Man Chand Rana which also marked the beginning of his downfall.

In same year when Congress high command wanted Pandit Sukhram to be chief minister of the state but majority of congress legislature from the district defied the orders and extended their support to Virbhadra Singh.

In 2003 the Kangra legislature instead of chosing a leader amongst themselves, gave support to Virbhadra Singh who was facing a stiff compition from Vidya stokes for CM’s post. It was again a Kangra leader, Major Vijay Singh Mankotia who started a crusade against Virbhadra Singh in 2007 by releasing the controversial CD while now his compromise with Singh has become the biggest surprise of the political scenes. On the other hand it is at the center stage of factional war between the two groups in BJP. It will be interesting to see in which way the wind in Kangra will blow.