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In Shimla Lok Sabha seat, two ‘faujis’ battle it out

Accusing BJP of “spreading lies”, Shandil claimed that demand for the special status was raised by Congress alone and both during the UPA and the NDA tenure.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 29, 2019 15:40 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, SHIMLA
Shimla,Fauji,parliamentary
Sunil Kashyap said the Congress had also questioned the evidence of the strikes and was compromising with the security of the country.(HT Photo)

Two-time MP and Congress candidate from Shimla parliamentary constituency, Dhani Ram Shandil on Sunday accused his Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) rival Suresh Kashyap of “lying” and challenged him for an open debate over the issue of granting tribal status to Hatti community of Sirmaur in Himachal Pradesh.

Accusing BJP of “spreading lies”, Shandil claimed that demand for the special status was raised by Congress alone and both during the UPA and the NDA tenure.

“In 2014, Rajnath Singh himself agreed at a campaign rally in Solan that the issue of Hatti community was pending at the Centre and will be resolved. However, after BJP came into power, they completely ignored the issue and have raised the same again to woo voters” Shandil said.

The state’s ruling BJP has dropped its two-time MP Virender Kashyap as there was anger among the 2.50 lakh-odd voters belonging to the Hatti community who are settled largely in the trans-Giri area of Sirmaur over his failure to come out with a detailed action plan on granting them tribal status, a demand pending for five decades.

However, promising speedy implementation, BJP candidate Kashyap said he will take up the issue to its logical conclusion once voted to power.

Meanwhile, Shandil also lashed out at BJP-led-state and central government over the issue of construction of 69 national highways in the state, saying that no groundwork has been done and the scheme has been limited to papers.

Both are candidates, who belong to the Koli community covered under the Scheduled Castes category, are aiming guns loaded with political salvoes and firing at each other.

One is a retired Colonel of the Indian Army, while another is former Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Indian Air Force. Interestingly, both Kashyap and Shandil rarely trade personal barbs and harp more on infrastructure and tourism development and country’s security agenda, a political observer said. “I am a fauji (soldier) and he’s also a fauji. But there is difference of opinion among both of us. He belongs to a party that questions India’s surgical strikes and air strikes,” Kashyap said. He said the Congress had also questioned the evidence of the strikes and was compromising with the security of the country.

Undeterred, a well-mannered Shandil said: “It is not the Congress but the BJP which is politicising the air strike and trying to get a political mileage out of it.”

“I am seeking re-election on the basis of my past performance as a two-time MP vis-a-vis BJP MP’s last two stints from this seat,” Shandil said. Firing potshots, Kashyap said being an ex-serviceman Shandil has to make his stand clear on abolition of AFSPA and the Sedition Act as mentioned in the Congress manifesto. (With agency inputs)

First Published: Apr 29, 2019 14:17 IST