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BJP sweeps lower Himachal but its bigwigs bite the dust

In Kangra, the politically significant district that holds the key to the seat of power, the BJP’s tally went up to 10 from three in the previous election.

india Updated: Dec 19, 2017 12:47 IST
Naresh K Thakur
Naresh K Thakur
Hindustan Times, Dharamshala
Anil Sharma, who switched from the Congress to the BJP just before the elections, celebrating his win with supporters in Mandi on Monday.
Anil Sharma, who switched from the Congress to the BJP just before the elections, celebrating his win with supporters in Mandi on Monday. (Birbal Sharma/HT)

The Modi wave swept lower Himachal, giving the BJP the mandate to rule but many a bigwig from the party were in for a shock as the results for the assembly elections were declared on Monday. Lower Himachal comprises the districts of Kangra, Mandi, Hamirpur, Bilaspur and Una, with a total of 39 assembly segments out of 68.

The BJP made a clean sweep in Mandi, winning nine of the 10 seats. One seat went to an independent, Prakash Rana, who has a transport business in Dubai. Rana defeated BJP strongman and former minister Gulab Singh Thakur, whose daughter is married to former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s son Anurag Thakur.

Similarly, health minister Kaul Singh Thakur lost from his stronghold of Darang.

In Bilaspur, the BJP won three of four seats except the Sri Naina Deviji segment, where former Congress minister Ram Lal Thakur registered a win after two consecutive defeats.

WINS 10 SEATS IN KANGRA

In Kangra, the politically significant district that holds the key to the seat of power, the BJP’s tally went up to 10 from three in the previous election. Over the years, Kangra has become a region known for voting against the incumbent government.

This time, however, Kangra district, which has 15 seats in the 68-member House, not only voted against the incumbent rule but also sprung a surprise as bigwigs from both the BJP and the Congress had to bite the dust.

Among the leaders in Kangra who lost are former BJP minister and five-time legislator Ravinder Singh Ravi from Dehra and Indu Goswami from Palampur.

Among the Congress leaders to lose the election are ministers in the outgoing assembly Sudhir Sharma from Dharamshala and GS Bali from Nagrota Bagwan; former minister and Rajya Sabha member Viplove Thakur from Dehra and former minister Chander Kumar from Jawali.

Of the three constituencies where Modi addressed rallies, the BJP lost in two, Palampur and Fatehpur. Poll analysts say the defeat was due to wrong selection of candidates, who did not belong to the assembly segment.

HAMIRPUR SHOCKER

The most interesting contest was witnessed in Hamirpur district, a citadel of the BJP. The Congress breached into this saffron fortress, winning three of the five seats. The most shocking result came from Sujanpur assembly segment where the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, Prem Kumar Dhumal, lost to his one-time protégé Rajinder Singh Rana of the Congress.

The Congress also won Barsar and Nadaun assembly segments.

BJP STATE CHIEF LOSES FROM UNA

Though Una voted for the BJP, giving it three of the five seats, the saffron party also suffered a jolt as its state chief, Satpal Singh Satti, lost to his namesake Satpal Singh Raizada of the Congress. Another seat that went to the Congress was Haroli from where sitting minister Mukesh Agnihotri registered a comprehensive victory.

In Bilaspur, the BJP won three of four seats except the Sri Naina Deviji segment, where former Congress minister Ram Lal Thakur registered a win after two consecutive defeats.