Kangra Constituency Wach: Debutants battle as Congress eyes BJP fort - Hindustan Times
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Kangra Constituency Wach: Debutants battle as Congress eyes BJP fort

By, Dharamshala
May 31, 2024 11:38 AM IST

In the last six Lok Sabha elections, the constituency has consistently favoured the BJP, with the exception of 2004 when the Congress bagged the seat

Former Union minister and Congress candidate for the Kangra Lok Sabha seat Anand Sharma is eyeing to break the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) winning streak that extends back to 15 years.

Kangra goes to polls with the rest of Himachal on June 1. (HT File)
Kangra goes to polls with the rest of Himachal on June 1. (HT File)

In the last six Lok Sabha elections, the constituency has consistently favoured the BJP, with the exception of 2004 when the Congress bagged the seat. Notable victors include Rajan Sushant for the BJP in 2009, Shanta Kumar in 2014 and Kishan Kapoor in the last Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

In the Kangra constituency in 2019, BJP’s Kishan Kapoor set a record by securing the highest-ever 72.02% of votes, winning the elections with a margin of 4,77,623 votes. The BJP, however, has dropped Kapoor in favour of party’s state secretary Rajeev Bhardwaj, who will contest the Lok Sabha polls for the first time.

The BJP is banking on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress has been continuously targeting the rival party for attempting to topple the state government.

The saffron party has consistently alleged Congress party of ignoring Kangra, while the Congress has raised questions about the lack of contributions made by Kishan Kapoor during the last five years.

BJP has dominated the seat during the parliamentary polls held since 1989 and in the past three decades the party has dominated the Kangra seat, winning six out of eight elections.

The Kangra constituency comprises 17 assembly segments — 13 in Kangra and four in Chamba districts. Congress has 11 MLAs in Kangra and Chamba districts, while the BJP has only five.

Anand Sharma is also contesting his first Lok Sabha elections, but is a battle-hardened veteran having contested other electoral battles. He has, however, been at the receiving end of the “outsider” barbs and the Congress is heavily relying on the party legislators to tilt the tide in Sharma’s favour.

Caste dynamics has played a crucial role in the politics of Kangr, but with both parties fielding Brahman faces this time, the battle is evenly balanced. During the last elections in 2019, Congress had fielded Pawan Kajal, an OBC face, against Kishan Kapoor, who belongs to the semi-nomadic Gaddi tribe.

While Gaddis constitute less than 8% of total population, they hold a sway in at least 13 assembly segments of the parliamentary constituency. Congress may try to benefit from the resentment among the community after BJP dropped the name of sitting MP Kishan Kapoor and fielded Bhardwaj.

In the six Lok Sabha elections held from 1998 to 2019, Brahmin candidates have made their way to the Parliament by winning the elections from Kangra four times. Shanta Kumar won the elections in 1998, 1999, and 2014, while Dr Rajan Sushant won in 2009 as a Brahmin candidate.

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