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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Political heirs dominate the scene

Gaurav Bisht/Naresh K Thakur , Hindustan Times  Shimla/Dharamsala, October 21, 2012
First Published: 23:17 IST(21/10/2012) | Last Updated: 23:52 IST(21/10/2012)

Like the national-level politics, the political inheritance is always counted for in the small hill state as a large number of inheritors of political legacy -- kith and kin of former MLAs and ministers -- have entered the electoral fray this time too.

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For the November 4 assembly elections, both Congress and BJP have fielded relatives of their stalwarts from various constituencies and those who have lost the ticket race have entered the fray as independents.

However, if a comparison is made between the two main political parties in the state, it is the Congress, which has the most number of candidates who are either wives or sons of senior politicians. There are 15 'political heirs' who are in the poll fray on the Congress ticket, while the number stands at three in the BJP.

Though the BJP had always treaded on the grass-root politics in Himachal, there are a few exceptions like chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal's elder son Anurag Thakur, who is a parliamentarian.

True to its culture of dynastic rule, the Congress has never shied away from promoting the kin factor. In the BJP, stalwarts like Shanta Kumar have always stood against nepotism. Kumar never promoted his wife or son in politics.

Congress
In the ensuing polls, the Congress has fielded five new faces who hail from political families. The party has about eight sitting legislators who are heirs of senior party leaders, including former MLAs and ministers.

The five new faces fielded by the Congress include Vinod Sultanpuri (Kasauli), son of six-time MP KD Sultanpuri; Yadvinder Goma (Jaisinghpur), son of former MLA Milkhi Ram Goma; Tara Thakur (Seraj), daughter of former minister Moti Ram Thakur; and Bhuvneshwar Gaud (Manali), son of former minister Rajkrishan Gaud. 

In Sirmaur district, the Congress has political heirs like Kush Parmar (candidate from Nahan), son of first chief minister Dr YS Parmar; Harshwardhan Chauhan (Shillai), son of former minister Thakur Guman Singh; and Vinay Kumar (Renuka) son of seven-time MLA Dr Prem Singh. Vinay Kumar had lost the 2011 by-election, which was held after the death of his father.

In Kangra, the Congress has fielded Ajay Mahajan (party nominee from Nurpur), son of former minister Sat Mahajan; Nikhil Rajour (Jaswan), son of former MLA Sarla Sharma and brother of Viplove Thakur; Neeraj Bharti (Jawali), son of former minister and MP Chaudhary Chander Kumar; Brij Bihari Lal Butail, younger brother of former MLA Kunj Bihari Lal Butail; and Sudhir Sharma (Dharamsala), son of former minister Sant Ram. Sudhir was accommodated in Dharamsala after his constituency was reserved for the Scheduled Caste in the delimitation exercise.

In Hamirpur district, Anita Verma (Sujanpur), wife of former MLA from Hamirpur Ramesh Verma and Narender Thakur (Hamirpur), son of BJP stalwart late Thakur Jagdev Chand are the Congress candidates in the poll fray. Narender Thakur had parted ways with the BJP and joined the Congress before the 2008 by-election for the Hamirpur parliamentary constituency.

In Chamba district, Asha Kumari (Dalhousie), daughter-in-law of former MLA Devindra Kumari and Surinder Bhardwj (Churah), son of former minister Vidyadhar are in the fray again.

In Shimla, the Congress has legislature party leader Vidya Stokes (Theog), wife of former MLA Lal Chand Stokes; and Rohit Thakur (Jubbal-Kotkhai), son of former chief minister Ram Lal Thakur. Anil Sharma, son of former telecom minister Sukh Ram is contesting election on the Congress ticket from Mandi.

BJP
In a sharp contrast to the Congress, the BJP has only has nominated three candidates, who have a political background. They include Vinod Chandel (Doon), wife of former MLA Ram Pratap Chandel; Urmil Thakur (Sujanpur), daughter-in-law of former BJP minister Thakur Jagdev Chand and Govind Thakur (Manali), son of former minister Thakur Kunj Lal.

The party had denied ticket to at least six claimants who hail to political families.

HLP
The breakaway faction of the saffron party has fielded Naveen Dhiman from Jaswan. Dhiman's father Virender Dhiman and mother Nirmla Devi have represented the constituency on BJP ticket.

Independents
After denial of ticket, family members of some stalwarts have jumped into the electoral fray as independents. They are: Prem Lata Thakur (Kullu) wife of former minister Sat Prakash Thakur; Dharmvir Dhami (Manali), nephew of late Congress minister Raj Krishan Thakur. Sudha Sushant (Jawali), wife of BJP MP from Kangra Rajan Sushant, is also in the fray as independent.

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