Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Pawan Kajal is Congress candidate from Kangra seat in Himachal
Two-term MLA Pawan Kajal will be the Congress candidate from Kangra constituency in Himachal Pradesh in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
He will take on Himachal minister Kishan Kapoor whom the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded after dropping veteran leader and former chief minister Shanta Kumar from the politically significant seat. The Kangra constituency comprises 17 assembly segments — 13 in Kangra and four in Chamba districts.
Kajal’s ticket was confirmed on Tuesday night when the Congress released a list of 20 candidates, including nominees from neighbouring Punjab and Union Territory of Chandigarh.
The Congress has so far announced candidates for three out of four Lok Sabha seats in the state. The party had on March 29 declared the candidature of former Union minister Sukh Ram’s grandson and state minister Anil Sharma’s son Aashray Sharma and Col Dhani Ram Shandil from Mandi and Shimla (SC), respectively. It is yet to announce candidate from Hamirpur where BJP’s Anurag Thakur is recontesting. The state will go to polls during the last phase on May 19.
Kajal, 44, hails from the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) while Kapoor, food and civil supply minister in the Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government in the state, belongs to the semi-nomadic Gaddi tribe, having a sizable population in Kangra and Chamba districts.
Congress had finalised Kajal’s name almost a week ago but was forced to withhold the announcement after some senior leaders opposed his candidature.
Meanwhile, Kajal is likely to return from a foreign tour on Thursday after which the party will organise a mega road show in Kangra to kick-start his campaign.
Party’s top brass, including former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, Himachal Congress chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore, leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri and Sudhir Sharma will accompany Kajal in the 5km-long road show from Gaggal airport to Mataur.
The caste gambit
The selection of an OBC candidate by the Congress against a nominee from the Gaddi tribe has made the Kangra battle interesting.
Though Gaddis are a little less than 8% of total population, they hold a sway in at least 13 assembly segments of the parliamentary constituency. This is for the first time that a Gaddi candidate has been fielded by a political party.
On the other hand OBC community is dominant across Kangra. Of the more than 9 lakh OBC population in the state, more than 55% live in the Kangra Lok Sabha constituency.
This is for the second time that the Congress has fielded an OBC candidate. Earlier, party’s senior OBC leader Chaudhary Chander Kumar had represented the constituency from 2004-2009. He had defeated BJP stalwart Shanta Kumar in 2004 elections.
Who is Pawan Kajal
Born in 1974, Pawan Kajal is builder by profession. Initially associated with BJP, he was elected Kangra Zila Parishad member twice. He contested the 2012 assembly elections as an Independent from Kangra seat after the BJP denied him ticket and won. He joined the Congress ahead of the 2017 assembly polls and got re-elected from Kangra on the party ticket.