Tardy development key issue

Dipender Manta

The slow pace of development has emerged as a major election issue in the Mandi Sadar Assembly constituency comprising 78,015 voters.

Local BJP legislator Anil Sharma has been critical of his own government over development issues. However, he seems to have softened his stand now and has shown keenness to contest the forthcoming election on BJP ticket from the constituency. A revolt was earlier witnessed against Anil Sharma in the BJP for criticising Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur over development issues.

The family of former Union Telecom Minister Sukh Ram had ruled the constituency for a long time. Sukh Ram was elected to the Vidhan Sabha for the first time from the Mandi Sadar seat on Congress ticket in 1967. He was again elected in 1972, 1977 and 1982. In 1985, Durga Dutt won the election on Congress ticket. In 1990, the BJP won the seat for the first time when Kanhaiya Lal was elected as MLA. In 1993, Anil Sharma, son of Sukh Ram, won the seat on Congress ticket.

Meanwhile, differences emerged between the Congress and Sukh Ram and the latter floated the Himachal Vikas Congress. He won the Mandi Sadar seat twice in the 1998 and 2003 Assembly elections. In the 2007 and 2012 Assembly poll, Anil Sharma won the seat on Congress ticket. In 2017, Anil Sharma joined the BJP before the Assembly elections and was elected MLA from Mandi Sadar.

Like the previous elections, the main contest will again be between the BJP and the Congress. The BJP is banking on votes in the name of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who belongs to Mandi district. The ruling party is focusing on the district and is keen to present an impressive performance so that Jai Ram Thakur could continue as Chief Minister. Anil Sharma has considerable vote bank in the Mandi Sadar constituency.

The Congress, on the other hand, says the government has failed to provide parking facilities in Mandi town. Traders of Indira Market are grappling with the problem of poor drainage. There was a proposal to beautify the town and connect Lord Shiva temples for tourism purpose but nothing has been done. The Thana Plaun hydroelectric power project, which is a long-pending demand of the residents of the constituency, has not be executed.

The BJP and the Congress are yet to declare their candidates from the constituency. Anil Sharma is a strong contender for the BJP ticket while the Congress can decide to field Champa Thakur.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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