Hamirpur: Anurag Thakur seeks fifth term on development pitch - Hindustan Times
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Hamirpur: Anurag Thakur seeks fifth term on development pitch

May 30, 2024 11:25 PM IST

Hamirpur was the epicentre of the rebellion faced by the Congress government earlier this year; four of the six by-elections are being held in Hamirpur.

Electoral stakes are high for both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Hamirpur where Union minister and BJP candidate Anurag Thakur is seeking a fifth term as a Member of Parliament (MP).

Chandigarh: Union Minister and BJP candidate from Hamirpur constituency Anurag Thakur during a public meeting ahead of the seventh phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Chandigarh, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (PTI Photo) (PTI05_29_2024_000293A)(PTI) PREMIUM
Chandigarh: Union Minister and BJP candidate from Hamirpur constituency Anurag Thakur during a public meeting ahead of the seventh phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Chandigarh, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (PTI Photo) (PTI05_29_2024_000293A)(PTI)

Thakur has focused his campaign on highlighting the developmental projects and public welfare initiatives carried out in Hamirpur during his previous tenures. As Hamirpur is a BJP stronghold, previously represented by his father and former Himachal Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Thakur enjoys an edge in the contest against the Congress candidate, former Una MLA, Satpal Raizada. Thakur will also bank on his father’s legacy to garner votes.

Raizada tasted electoral success in 2017 when he defeated BJP stalwart Satpal Singh Satti from the Una assembly segment by a margin of 3,196 votes. However, he lost to the same opponent in the 2022 assembly elections by a slender margin of 1,736 votes.

The BJP looks to maintain its firm hold over Hamirpur. Prior to Thakur, his father Dhumal had secured victory from the seat for the first time in 1989, then in 1991 and later again in 2007. Since 1989, the Congress has managed to wrest the seat only once, with party candidate Vikram Singh winning in 1996.

Registering a win is equally important for Congress because Hamirpur is the home parliamentary constituency of both Himachal CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and deputy chief minister Mukesh Agnihotri.

Besides highlighting the developmental works during his tenure, Thakur has launched sharp attacks on the Congress party and its leaders including Rahul Gandhi.

Be it the establishment of AIIMS in Bilaspur, a Bulk Drug Park in Una, expansion of railways including the first Vande Bharat train from Una, Thakur has pitched these as achievements to secure the seat for the fifth time.

High-stakes battle

Hamirpur was the epicentre of the rebellion faced by the Congress government earlier this year; four of the six by-elections are being held in the Hamirpur parliamentary constituency. The Congress campaign, being spearheaded by Sukhu, who represents Nadaun in the assembly, accuses the BJP of orchestrating the rebellion to destabilise the state government by using money power.

Four of the six rebels, Rajinder Rana of Sujanpur, Chaitanya Sharma of Gagret, Inderdutt Lakhanpal of Barsar and Davinder Kumar Bhutto of Kutlehar, belong to assembly segments in the Hamirpur Lok Sabha constituency. The Congress hopes that the general citizenry, annoyed with the rebels will go against the BJP.

Besides Thakur, they face another formidable opponent in the form of BJP’s national president, JP Nadda, a native of Bilaspur. The leader has represented the Bilaspur (Sadar) assembly seat, which falls under the Hamirpur parliamentary constituency, thrice.

Agniveer factor

With Hamirpur also sending a considerable number of soldiers to Indian defence forces, the belt has a huge number of ex-servicemen. The Congress has cornered the BJP over the Agniveer scheme, which they say is detrimental to the future of youth. The BJP, meanwhile, has been trying to sell its efforts to implement the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.

During their election rallies in Hamirpur, senior Congress leaders, including the two Gandhis also brought up the Agniveer issue. Additionally, local leaders from both Congress and BJP have been sparring over the matter.

Anurag Thakur’s public connect

Thakur enjoys a strong support base and public connect in Hamirpur with a significant following among the youth. He set up an excellence centre under the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Hamirpur. He also launched the MP Khel Mahakumbh in 2018.

Professor Harish Kumar Thakur from the political science department of the Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) said that Thakur has an upper hand as he not only represents Himachal but also India at the international level as a leader of Indian youth. “He is a visionary leader and his vision of ‘Bharat 2047’ implies the strengthening of the education, health and sports sectors. He is a strong campaigner of BJP this time and has a significant following among youth,” he said.

What do voters say?

Naresh Singh Rana, a Hamirpur resident and a cricket coach, said that the people will vote for the candidate who is working for the people. “The works done in previous years in our constituency will be on our minds when we vote on June 1. Mostly the public sentiment here seems the same,” he said.

Narinder Thakur, another voter said, “The sentiment on the ground is with PM Modi and Anurag Thakur because of the developmental works he has carried out during his previous terms. Be it the expansion of railways, setting of SAI’s Excellence Centre or Medical College, people will keep these things in mind while voting. He has a vision for mass development."

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