12.99 lakh voters to decide fate of six candidates in Mandi

Dipender Manta

Tribune News Service

Mandi, October 16

Over 12.99 lakh voters will decide the fate of six candidates in the fray for the Mandi Lok Sabha byelection though the contest is mainly between Congress candidate Pratibha Singh and BJP candidate Brig Khushal Thakur (retd). In the 2019 elections, BJP candidate Ram Swaroop Sharma had won the seat with a record margin of 4.5 lakhs votes. The byelection had been necessitated due to his death early this year.

Lok sabha byelection (main contenders)

  • Main fight between Pratibha Singh (Cong) and Brig Khushal Thakur (BJP)
  • In 18 LS polls, BJP won the seat five times and Cong 12 times

The BJP has won the Mandi Lok Sabha seat only five times in the l8 parliamentary elections held till date. As the prestige of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur is at stake this time, the party is going all out to retain the seat, which it won by a record margin of 4.5 lakh votes in the 2019 elections.

From 1952 to 2019, the BJP had won the seat only five times while the Congress had bagged it 12 times. The Bharatiya Lok Dal was victorious only once in 1977.

The Mandi parliamentary constituency comprises 17 Assembly segments located in Mandi, Kullu, Chamba, Shimla, Kinnaur, and Lahaul and Spiti districts. It includes the Assembly seats of Mandi (Sadar), Balh, Nachan, Jogindernagar, Sundernagar, Seraj, Sarkaghat, Darang and Karsog in Mandi district; Anni, Banjar, Kullu, and Manali in Kullu district; Bharmour in Chamba district, Rampur in Shimla district, Lahaul and Spiti, and Kinnaur.

The BJP had first won the seat in 1989 and thereafter in 1998, 1999, 2014 and 2019. For the BJP, Maheshwar Singh, scion of the Kullu royal family, had won the seat thrice and Ram Swaroop Shrama twice. Top Congress leaders Virbhadra Singh and Sukh Ram had also won the seat. Pratibha Singh, too, had won it twice in 2004 and 2013.

The Congress had won the seat 12 times, first in 1952 and later in 1957, 1962, 1967, 1971, 1980, 1984, 1991, 1996, 2004, 2009 and 2013.

There are a total of 12,99,756 voters, including 639,013 female. There are 32,077 first-time voters between 18 and 19 years of age, including 15,053 female, and one transgender. As many as 2,113 polling centres will be set up in the constituency. In each Assembly segment, two polling stations run exclusively by women staff will be set up.

The highest polling station at 15,226 feet above the sea level will be set up at Tashigang village in Lahaul and Spiti district, while the lowest polling station at a height of 600 feet will be at Bari in the Sarkaghat Assembly segment in Mandi district.

Six candidates, namely Pratibha Singh (Congress), Brig Khushal Thakur (BJP), Ambika Shyam (Rashtriya Lokneeti Party), Munshi Ram Thakur (Himachal Jankranti Party), and Anil Kumar and Subhash Mohan Snehi (Independents), are fighting the byelection.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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