Polls at the helm, Mandi finds itself short of representatives | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Polls at the helm, Mandi finds itself short of representatives

Mandi parliamentary constituency, the second largest constituency in the country and an area doinated by either the Congress or the BJP since independence lurks in uncertainty this time, as the Bharatiya Janata Party is yet to announce a candidate for the seat.

punjab Updated: Mar 23, 2014 20:38 IST
Roop Upadhyay

Mandi parliamentary constituency, the second largest constituency in the country and an area doinated by either the Congress or the BJP since independence lurks in uncertainty this time, as the Bharatiya Janata Party is yet to announce a candidate for the seat.

Not only BJP, but new political entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP) have also failed to find a suitable candidate so far with only 20 days left for filling nomination (April 12) and 45 days for voting (May 7).

As of now, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) have declared its joint candidate Kushal Bhardwaj, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) fielded Lala Ram Sharma on Saturday, whereas the Congress party is relying on sitting Mandi MP Pratibha Singh.
Pratibha Singh, wife of chief minister Virbhadra Singh, won a by-election here in June 2013 by a huge margin defeating nearest rival BJP's Jai Ram Thakur.As soon as the results of the by-election were out, almost all the political parties started blaming misuse of government machinery by Pratibha due to the political influence of CM-husband Virbhadra Singh, and added that "the same magic will not be repeated in the general Lok Sabha elections".

Despite proclamations of giving a tough time to Pratibha, the opposition parties have not been able to find suitable candidates, even though time for the electioneering is narrowing by every passing day.
At present only Kushal Bhardwaj, joint candidate of CPI and CPM, is campaigning whereas no other party leader has yet established a connect with the electorate.

BJP, considered a major contender against the Congress, is still hopeful of returning its rebel leader and former MP Maheshwar Singh. But with hopes of such a possibility diminishing, the BJP has started scrutinising a list of possible strong candidate in its meetings at district and state level.Earlier, speculations were rife that former youth leader Ajay Rana, Brigadier Kushal Thakur (retd) and Manali MLA Gobind Ram's names were on the top of the list, but party sources inform that name of former state woman commission chairperson and senior BJP leader Ambika Sood is now in the lead.

Inside sources of BJP inform that Sood, belonging to Mandi district and married in Kullu, having a princely background and popularity as mass leader, especially among women, can give Congress a tough fight.