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Fathers, sons, veterans, rising stars: Key names in Himachal Pradesh elections

Himachal Pradesh will vote in assembly elections on November 9 – a contest that will see the Congress fight to retain one of the six states it is in power while the BJP aims to snatch it and prove its policies are popular.

assembly elections Updated: Oct 12, 2017 18:16 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times
Himachal Pradesh Assembly election 2017,Himachal election,Himachal politics
Women of Kufri panchayat in Shimla walk to a polling station to vote in panchayat elections on January 3, 2016.(Deepak Sansta/ HT file photo)

Himachal Pradesh will vote in assembly elections on November 9. The Congress will fight the elections to retain one of the six states it’s in power while the BJP looks to snatch it and prove that its policies are popular. Here are personalities who will matter in the elections.

Chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his son Vikramaditya Singh (Congress)

Virbhadra Singh, a political warhorse, is a six-term chief minister who entered politics in 1962 when he won the Mandi Lok Sabha seat.

Virbhadra, 83, first became Himachal Pradesh chief minister in 1983. In Delhi, he handled Union ministries like tourism, civil aviation, micro industries and steel.

Virbhadra, who is now the second longest serving chief minister of the hill-state after Yashwant Singh Parmar, faces a tough election but he has a record for emerging stronger every time he is in trouble. However, his image has hurt because of allegations of corruption and crimes in the state like the rape and murder of a 16-year old school student near Shimla.

Virbhadra and his wife were in August 2009 charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly breaching rules when he was the chief minister. The Central Bureau of Investigation filed a case against Singh and his family in 2015 for owning assets “disproportionate to his known sources of income” when he was the Union minister between 2009 and 2011.

Chief minister Virbhadra Singh (extreme right) with his son, Youth Congress president Vikramditya Singh (centre) after voting in Rampur Bushehar on May 7, 2014 for the Lok Sabha elections. (HT file photo)

Singh has to counter the BJP’s campaign against him while fighting detractors within the Congress party, like state party chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

His son Vikramaditya Singh, 27, is likely to contest the upcoming polls. Vikramadiya put on the family mantle in 2012 when he successfully contested election for president of state Youth Congress. His election, however, was cancelled after the rival faction lodged a complaint of misuse of power.

Vikramaditya was again elected Youth Congress chief in 2013. Virbhadra Singh has declared that Vikramaditya will contest the polls from Shimla (rural), the assembly seat the chief minister represents.

Prem Kumar Dhumal and his son Anurag Thakur (BJP)

Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was elected as a Lok Sabha member for the first time in 1989, has been BJP’s face in Himachal for two decades.

Dhumal, 73, was the party’s surprise pick for the chief minister’s post in 1998 and successfully completed a five-year term, breaking a jinx attached to the BJP whose earlier two governments could last only half their terms. Age is not on his side this time and Union health minister JP Nadda poses a strong leadership challenge, but Dhumal’s unmatched mass appeal can go in his favour.

Anurag Thakur, Dhumal’s son and a cricketer administrator-turned-politician, carries a ‘high flying image’. Thakur was elected as Lok Sabha member in 2008 when he won the by-election for Hamirpur constituency. Thakur, 42, was re-elected to parliament in 2009 and again in 2014.

One of the youngest parliamentarians, Anurag headed the BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha for over six years. In 2016, he was elected as president of Board Of Control For Cricket In India, the world’s richest cricketing body, only to be removed by a Supreme Court order after a short stint of over seven months.

Anurag is likely to lead the party in Himachal later.

Union health minister JP Nadda (BJP)

Jagat Prakash Nadda, who is regarded as the strongest candidate in the BJP for the chief minister’s post, started out as a student leader in 1975 when he joined the then Sampurna Kranti (total revolution) movement started by Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He was elected as secretary of Patna university students union in 1977 as a candidate of RSS’s student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

Nadda, 56, entered state politics in 1993 when he won the assembly election from his home-town Bilaspur and was appointed as leader of opposition.

BJP leaders JP Nadda (right) with Anurag Thakur during the TB-free India summit at Dharamsala on April 8, 2017. (Shyam Sharma/HT file photo)

Nadda was re-elected in 1998 and made cabinet minister in the Prem Kumar Dhumal-led BJP government. He served another stint as the mister holding forest, environment and science and technology ministries from 2007-2010.

After he fell out with Dhumal, Nadda quit state politics and was appointed as BJP’s national general secretary. He was elected as a Rajya Sabha member from Himachal in 2012. He was inducted as health minister in the Narendra Modi-led government in November 2014. Nadda is close to BJP president Amit Shah.

Considered an able organiser and master strategist, he is also member of BJP’s Parliamentary Board, the top decision making body of the saffron party.

First Published: Oct 12, 2017 18:14 IST