Cong Has No CM Face In HP: BJP

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Cong Has No CM Face In HP: BJP

| Updated: November 5, 2022 15:15

The Congress in Himachal Pradesh may have anti-incumbency winds in its sails, but it still lacks a towering local leader to steer its ship into port. It is missing Virbhadra Singh, the six-time chief minister who was also a nine-time MLA, four-time MP, three-time Union minister, and four-time state party chief, who died on July 8, last year.

The BJP has shown that it would continue with incumbent Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.

With several candidates already vying for the position of CM, Congress has yet to declare a clear lead. The three candidates are sitting MP Pratibha Singh, Virbhadra Singh’s wife, Leader of Opposition in the Himachal Assembly Mukesh Agnihotri, and Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, the party’s campaign committee in-charge. The party has been silent on declaring a CM candidate, fearing that doing so could cause problems for the organization.

According to reports, the party has been out of power at the Centre for two terms and in Himachal for the previous five years, resulting in a scarcity of resources. On the condition of anonymity, a leader in the Congress said, “Candidates have been asked to fend for themselves, both in terms of resources and the campaign. They have been asked not to create any controversy that can upset the party’s applecart.”

The Congress is also facing an intense BJP campaign that criticises it for its lack of a central leadership and dynasty politics. At the Center and in Himachal, it is referred to as a “Ma-Beta” party.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who was campaigning in Himachal on Tuesday and Wednesday, mocked the Congress for failing to pick a candidate for Chief Minister. He stated that at least eight people were vying for the position.

The BJP targeted the Congress in Kangra district by stealing its sitting MLA from the Kangra seat, Pawan Kajal, and nominating him as their candidate. Kajal is well-known in the constituency of his connections.

In Sullah, Congress candidate Jagdish Singh Sapehia is facing a rebellion within the ranks, with former party MLA Jagjiwan Paul running as an Independent. Paul, a two-time Congress MLA from Sullah, was defeated by BJP candidate Parmar in 2017. He claims to have tremendous support from the OBC and SC groups as an OBC leader. Sushil Kumar in Jaisinghpur and Mukesh Thakur in Jaswan Pragpur, both in the Kangra district, are the other two rebels the party has in the battle. Recently, the party expelled the three rebels.

The party has been under the target in six of Kangra’s 15 constituencies for fielding the sons of former ministers and MLAs. Former minister Sat Mahajan’s son Ajay Mahajan lives in Nurpur, while former minister Sujan Singh Pathania’s son Bhawani Singh Pathania lives in Fatehpur and former minister G.S. Bali’s son R.S. Bali lives in Nagrota Bagwan. Its candidate in Palampur, Ashish Butail, is the son of former minister BBL Butail.

Yadwinder Goma, a former MLA’s son, lives in Jaisinghpur. Former minister Sudhir Sharma in Dharamshala is the son of the former minister Sant Ram.
The party is reliant on the pledge to reinstate the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) for employees of state governments. It is also exploiting existing dissatisfaction with the Centre’s Agniveer scheme and its failure to control inflation. With the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) struggling to make gains in the state, it is unconcerned about splitting anti-incumbency votes.

R.S. Bali, the Nagrota Bagwan nominee, stated that each election is unique. He said, “It is not that the BJP was elected in all states. They formed the government by proxy. It is an undemocratic process.”

He stated that the party was in a good position because people were tired of inflation. “There are several other issues, too. They [the BJP] have not done any work locally as well. The people remember the work done during our regime.”

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