Millennium Post

Cong still caught-up badly in Hamirpur; BJP far ahead in campaign

Shimla: Even as three-time MP Anurag Thakur is away ahead in the campaign to defend his home turf, Congress has no clues as to how and where to begin in Hamirpur Parliamentary constituency that party hasn't won after 1996.

With some of the potential names unwilling to take the plunge against Anurag Thakur, the Congress is busy in working its chemistry and math to field a new face.

What looked some days back that the party has already shut its doors on former BJP MP Suresh Chandel, who was negotiating a deal with the Congress to join the party for the election, hasn't given –up his hopes.

The insiders say his name was still under consideration despite former PCC president Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu having made his mind public to contest. Yet, there is a silver lining in his public posturing, and reality.

"It's true that the party hasn't taken any final call on the candidate in Hamirpur. That doesn't mean that we wouldn't have candidates or potential leaders to give the BJP a run. The candidate may be announced in one or two days," says PCC president Kuldeep Singh Rathore.

What has actually put the Congress on the backfoot in Hamirpur is factionalism in the party. Former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had been favouring, quite only, for Abhishek Rana, son of sitting Congress MLA from Sujanpur.

Rajender Rana had defeated former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal in 2017 poll and jeopardised the BJP's plan to see Dhumal's smooth entry to the Chief Ministerial post. He was the party's candidate for the post. The BJP did not expect the defeat in Sujanpur though the seat was chosen by Dhumal for the first time.

Nonetheless, Rana had suddenly shot into fame as a giant killer and he had been grooming his son to take on Anurag Thakur, who is Dhumal's son, and former BCCI president. Anurag had covered a lot of grounds in the constituency during past three-four months and his father, who also had remained three-time MP, had not left any effort to recover the lost grounds.

In fact, after losing the assembly polls, Dhumal had spent most of the time in his effort to outreach the voters and prepare the pitch for a comfortable win for Anurag Thakur in Lok Sabha. "We are not taking any risk. Everything is meticulously organised and well worked-out," admits Sanjeev Katwal, a staunch Dhumal loyalist.

Now, if the party considers picking-up its candidate other than Sukhu – who is also sitting MLA, then Chandel and Rana are definitely among probable. There have been speculations about fielding an ex-serviceman to woo soldiers' families as Hamirpur is a significant presence in the army and para-military forces.

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