Himachal bypolls a prestige battle for Sukhvinder Sukhu, Anurag Thakur - Hindustan Times
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Himachal bypolls a prestige battle for Sukhvinder Sukhu, Anurag Thakur

By, Dharamshala
Jul 10, 2024 07:12 AM IST

The stakes are high for chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, who has spearheaded the campaign for Congress and his wife Kamlesh Thakur, as well as Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur

The three assembly segments where bypolls are to be held on Wednesday have not only pitted principal opponents the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, but also party stalwarts against each other in a battle of prestige.

Himachal CM Sukhvinder Sukhu’s wife Kamlesh Thakur is contesting the Himachal bypolls. (File)
Himachal CM Sukhvinder Sukhu’s wife Kamlesh Thakur is contesting the Himachal bypolls. (File)

The stakes are high for chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, who has spearheaded the campaign for Congress and his wife Kamlesh Thakur, who is contesting from Dehra, as well as Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur.

Hamirpur being the home turf of the former Union minister, Thakur has also extensively canvassed for the BJP bypoll candidates — especially Hamirpur assembly candidate Ashish Sharma.

During his campaigning, Thakur attacked the Congress government over the alleged failure to deliver on poll promises from the 2022 assembly elections. He has consistently accused the party of cheating the people, saying the Sukhu-led state government has brought no development to the state or Hamirpur in its 18 months of rule.

Thakur also held the Congress government in the state responsible for putting the burden of bypolls on the public.

Sukhu, for whom winning the three bypolls bolsters his position in the government, has taken on the responsibility of securing a sweeping victory for the Congress.

Congress’ decision to field his wife Kamlesh Thakur attached added significance to the battle.

All eyes on Dehra

Making her electoral debut, Thakur takes on two-time former independent legislator Hoshyar Singh. The latter has secured wins from the seat in the last two assembly elections, defeating candidates from both the Congress and the BJP.

The Congress never having won the seat, carved out in 2010, adds to the challenge for Thakur.

In Hamirpur, the Congress has entrusted faith in Pushpinder Verma, to take on BJP’s Ashish Sharma, who had defeated Pushpinder Verma by a margin of around 12,000 votes in the 2022 assembly polls..

Nalagarh assembly constituency will witness a three-way contest. The Congress has tasked Indian National Trade Union Congress’ (INTUC) state unit president Hardeep Singh Bawa with wresting the seat from KL Thakur, who is now contesting as the BJP pick. Harpreet Singh, son of three-time BJP MLA Harinarayan Saini, has defied the party to contest elections as an independent.

Throughout their election campaign, the Congress party turned up the attack on former independent legislators for “betraying” the mandate and trust of the public who voted for them in the last elections.

The strategy had worked well for the party in the June 1 bypolls, when Congress made its rebels’ perceived backstabbing a poll plank. The Congress had run a high-decibel campaign accusing the BJP for orchestrating the rebellion in a bid to destabilise the state government by using money power.

Over 2.55 lakh voters will seal the fate of 13 candidates in fray on Wednesday. Results for all three seats will be announced on July 13.

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