Stakes high for both BJP, Congress in Mandi

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, September 29

With almost a year left for the next Assembly elections in the state, winning the Mandi Lok Sabha and three assembly bypolls is equally imperative for both the ruling BJP and the Congress.

The stakes are high for the BJP for Mandi Lok Sabha election as the party won the seat by a record margin by its sitting MP Ram Swaroop whose death resulted in the seat falling vacant. Mandi also happens to be the home turf of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur. Hence, the outcome of the Mandi bypoll will be a direct reflection on his leadership.

Of the three Assembly segments going to the bypolls — two, Arki in Solan and Fatehpur in Kangra — had been won by the Congress and Jubbal Kotkhai won by the BJP in the 2017 Assembly polls. As such, the ruling BJP would want to not just retain the seat held by it but wrest the other two seats from the Congress.

While the Congress is engaged in a tussle for one-upmanship within the state leadership, the BJP is already in election mode. Thakur has already made several announcements with an eye on the bypolls. As such the Congress faces an uphill task of standing up to the might of the BJP. The Congress is starved of funds and resources.

The Congress will bank heavily on the sympathy factor and seek support in the name of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was a sitting legislator from Arki constituency in Solan district. His wife and former MP Pratibha Singh is a contender for the party ticket for Mandi seat.

History in Himachal shows that on most occasions the bypolls are won by the ruling party. A lot will depend on the ticket allocation by the two political players who are banking on the sympathy vote in Fatehpur and Jubbal-Kotkhai.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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