Himachal Pradesh election: AAP takes lead, announces first list of candidates

Updated on Sep 20, 2022 05:18 PM IST

With this, the AAP has become the first party to announce its list in the hill state even as the election date is yet to be declared.

(Clockwise from top) Rajan Sushant, will contest as the AAP candidate from Fatehpur; Umakant Dogra will fight from Nagrota Bagwan in Kangra district; Sudarshan Jaspa from the Scheduled Tribe-reserved seat of Lahaul-Spiti and Manish Thakur will fight from Paonta Sahib in Sirmaur. (HT Photo)
(Clockwise from top) Rajan Sushant, will contest as the AAP candidate from Fatehpur; Umakant Dogra will fight from Nagrota Bagwan in Kangra district; Sudarshan Jaspa from the Scheduled Tribe-reserved seat of Lahaul-Spiti and Manish Thakur will fight from Paonta Sahib in Sirmaur. (HT Photo)
ByGaurav Bisht and Naresh K Thakur

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is projecting itself as the third option in the well-entrenched bipolar political landscape of Himachal Pradesh, on Tuesday announced its first list of candidates for four constituencies out of the 68 in the state assembly.

The candidates on the first list, which was released on Himachal Pradesh AAP’s social media handle, are Rajan Sushant, a former BJP MP, who will be the AAP’s Fatehpur assembly segment candidate; Umakant Dogra will contest from Nagrota Bagwan in Kangra district; Manish Thakur from Paonta Sahib constituency in Sirmaur; and Sudarshan Jaspa from Lahaul-Spiti, a seat reserved or a candidate from the Scheduled Tribes.

With this, the AAP has become the first party to announce its list in the hill state even as the election date is yet to be declared.

The state is expected to go to the polls in November.

“Congratulations to all candidates. People of Himachal have a lot of expectations from you,” the party’s election in-charge for the state and Rajya Sabha member Sandeep Pathak tweeted.

BJP rebel to AAP prize catch

Sushant, a big name in Himachal politics, had rejoined AAP on September 9, six years after he quit the party.

The former five-term legislator was a minister in the Prem Kumar Dhumal-led BJP government from 1998 to 2000 and was the MP from Kangra Lok Sabha seat from 2009-14. The BJP suspended him from the party in 2012 for his public outburst against the Dhumal government and state BJP leadership.

He snapped ties with the BJP months before the 2014 general election to join the AAP.

Sushant contested the election from Kangra on AAP ticket but forfeited his deposit. He quit the AAP in 2016 and floated his outfit, Hamari Party-Himachal Party, that failed to gain public support.

Ex-BJP star worker in AAP fold

The AAP’s candidate from Nagrota Bagwan, Umakant Dogra, is a former BJP worker. A farmer, Dogra is the state vice-president of AAP’s Other Backward Classes cell.

Hailing from the Changar area, he played a key role in BJP’s victory in former Congress minister GS Bali’s citadel Nagrota Bagwan in the 2017 elections. He also served as the pradhan of his panchayat, Sarotri.

HP Youth Cong ex-chief is AAP’s pick

Manish Thakur, the AAP’s pick for Paonta Sahib, is a former state Youth Congress president. He quit the Congress in March to join the AAP. He alleged that the ideology and struggle for which he had joined the Congress was being destroyed within the party.

Thakur joined the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) in 1998 and was a prominent student leader in Government Post Graduate College, Solan. From 2003-07, Thakur served as the state general secretary of the NSUI and was president of the Himachal Pradesh Youth Congress from 2018-20.

Left-leaning student leader to aam aadmi

Sudarshan Jaspa, the candidate from Lahaul-Spiti, also started as a student leader and was associated with the Left-leaning Students’ Federation of India (SFI).

The CPI(M) picked him as its candidate in 2017 but he chose to contest as an Independent.

At present, a zila parishad Member, Jaspa is the chairman of the Lahaul Potato Growers’ Cooperative Marketing-cum-Processing Society Limited, Asia’s second largest cooperative society.

He joined the AAP in March after the party’s impressive victory in neighbouring Punjab.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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