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HP CM’s prestige at stake in Dehra, with wife in fray

By-polls to Hamirpur (Hamirpur district), Nalagarh (Solan district), and Dehra Assembly constituencies were facilitated with the resignation of the three Independent MLAs from the state Assembly in March this year.

News Arena Network - Shimla - UPDATED: July 9, 2024, 04:29 AM - 6 mins read

CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu with wife.

HP CM’s prestige at stake in Dehra, with wife in fray

CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu with wife. File photo.


The hill state of Himachal Pradesh is going to by-polls for the second time in one and a half year rule on July 10, with stakes high for Chief Minister, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, whose wife is in the battlefield for the first time from the Dehra Assembly segment in Kangra district. 

 

By-polls to Hamirpur (Hamirpur district), Nalagarh (Solan district), and Dehra Assembly constituencies were facilitated with the resignation of the three Independent MLAs from the state Assembly in March this year.

 

All three – Ashish Sharma (Hamirpur), KL Thakur (Nalagarh), and Hoshyar Singh (Dehra) – had later joined the BJP and are now contesting the by-polls on BJP ticket.

 

In Hamirpur and Nalagarh, the Congress party has chosen to field the same candidates – Dr Pushpinder Verma and Hardeep Singh Bawa- who were defeated in the 2022 Assembly polls, but in Dehra, the party unexpectedly picked up the Chief Minister’s wife, Kamlesh Thakur for the contest. Kamlesh Thakur’s maika falls in Nalsuha in the Dehra Assembly segment.

 

The ruling Congress was in deep crisis after a rebellion by six Congress MLAs, who voted in the Rajya Sabha poll and then remained absent in Vidhan Sabha on the day the budget was to be passed and got disqualified from the Assembly.

 

The Congress numbers in the Assembly had slipped from 40 to 34 after their disqualification. However, the party regained strength to 38, winning back four out of six seats in by-polls, with all disqualified Congress rebels contesting on BJP ticket and only two of them- Sudhir Sharma and Inder Dutt Lakhanpal managing to make a comeback.

 

The ruling Congress is now at ease in the Assembly with BJP at 27 and is although taking the three by-polls on July 10 seriously, the party is not in panic anymore, compared to six by-polls earlier wherein losing the six seats would have given numbers to BJP expedite its efforts for ‘Operation Lotus’ to topple Congress government once again.

 

Yet, it is clear that out of three by-polls, the entire focus of Chief Minister is on Dehra, where he said, the party high command picked up his wife. Kamlesh Thakur is a novice in electoral politics and the entire team close to Chief Minister is backing her up in Dehra against Hoshyar Singh of BJP, who had won 2017 and 2022 Assembly polls as independent.

 

From Dehra koi nahi tera to Dehra hai mera slogans, CM Sukhu is assuring the electorate that Dehra, which earlier faced neglect since it was carved out in 2012, after the delimitation process, would be given prominence in development. As soon as the by-polls were announced, he announced a Superintendent of Police (SP) office in Dehra, a PWD office, and even said the Independence Day function would be held in the Dehra Assembly constituency this year.

 

The CM has been asking the people to question the Independents that when they were already Independent MLAs, why they resigned to contest for MLAs again, and that too to sit in Opposition while burdening the state with by-polls.

 

His wife, Kamlesh Thakur has been trying to connect locally, holding that, “married daughters are not sent back empty-handed from their home”. Hitting at BJP opponent for having ditched people and not having done any development work since 2017 when he was first elected, Thakur promises the village folks, especially women, that she will raise Dehra’s voice effectively. “I can get many of your works done from the Chief Minister at home also,” she tries to woo them.

 

Dehra, which is an under-developed area being part of Jwalamukhi and Jaswan Pragpur constituencies earlier, looks for development as a major issue and the demand for the district is again picking up in Dehra.

 

“We hope that with Dehra coming to focus, we get this demand fulfilled. We hope we are not told about the financial crunch later,” said some elders in Dehra.

 

Hoshyar Singh, on the other hand, has had a personal hold in Dehra as an Independent also, as he won twice in a row. Yet, this time, equations are different, as he is contesting on a BJP ticket- a decision that annoyed the senior leaders in Dehra, especially former ministers, Ramesh Dhawala and Ravinder Ravi, who have not been involved in the decision to field the Independent. Both have conveyed their displeasure.

 

Singh did try to placate Dhawala a couple of days ago, but the patch-up seemed superficial. All other senior BJP leaders, including Leader of Opposition, Jai Ram Thakur, State BJP Chief, Dr Rajeev Bindal, however, have made Dehra the focal point, stepping up attack against the Sukhu government, describing it as ‘Mukyamatri, patni aur mitron ki sarkar’.

 

Hoshyar Singh represents Other Backward Classes (OBC), whose population in Dehra is quite high. He does have a hold among OBCs and is marking his voters' person to person, door to door, but it remains to be seen whether this caste equation weighs heavier than the CM backing of Congress nominee in Dehra this time or not.

Related Tags:#Himachal Pradesh
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