A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bastion for over two decades, the family of the former party chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal pretty much calls the shots in the Hamirpur Parliamentary constituency.
However, this time Rajinder Rana, the former protégé of the former chief minister, is pitted against his (PK Dhumal’s) son and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) chief Anurag Thakur and a no-holds barred clash is in the offing.
Having lost seven of the eight elections since 1989 here, the Congress is largely depending on the rapport former BJP leader Rana enjoys with the voters in Hamirpur and Una districts.
Thakur, on the other hand, is banking on his performance as the MP and the Narendra Modi wave.
Thakur is eyeing a hat-trick, but friend-turned-foe Rana seems intent on giving the BJP a tough challenge in pockets.
CLASH OF THE TITANS
After the BJP denied him a ticket, Rana won the assembly elections from Sujanpur and shifted his loyalty to the Congress. Keen to get a foothold in the BJP bastion, chief minister Virbhadra Singh backed his candidature for the Lok Sabha election from Hamipur, inspite of opposition from state party chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.
There is another interesting angle to the poll as the by-election to the Sujanpur assembly segment also takes place on May 7, the day of the MP polls, and Rana’s wife is in fray there.
So, he is enticing voters by claiming that if his wife wins, she could be made a chief parliamentary secretary with the state government, or could even be a minister. He is also banking on development in the area over the past 18 months.
For the BJP, winning is turning out to be a matter of prestige for Anurag Thakur. Claiming that the Una-Amb railway line was his biggest achievement, Thakur is promising expansion of the track up to the Hamirpur district headquarters.
He has also promised the setting up of bigger industrial units and professional training institute, besides a PGI centre.
VOTE BANK MATTERS
The BJP has been able to hold its vote bank in Hamirpur district and Dharampur assembly segment in the Mandi district and two assembly segments of Kangra district. Rana also has considerable vote bank here and also poses a challange to the BJP in Una.
SWEATING IT OUT
After initial opposition, Rana now seems to be getting the full support from the Congress party. Chief minister Virbhadra Singh is campaigning for Rana and his son and chief of party’s youth wing Vikramaditya Singh is also camping here. For Thakur, Dhumal is travelling the length and breadth of the constituency, with younger son Arun Dhumal managing the campaign.
Dominated by Rajputs, Hamirpur has a considerable population of Schedule Castes and Brahmins. However, caste has seldom been a rallying point here.
THE NUMBER GAME AND PERFORMANCE
BJP has won 10 out of 17 assembly segments here, giving it an edge. Poor roads and lack of development seems to be going against the Congress.