LS polls: ‘Kangana’s poll journey tough in Mandi, BJP dissidents pose challenge’

LS polls: ‘Kangana’s poll journey tough in Mandi, BJP dissidents pose challenge’

Shimla: Even as “Queen” actor Kangana Ranaut, BJP’s high profile ‘Hinduvta’ voice in Bollywood has hit the streets of Mandi quite early ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, her journey looks fraught with challenges.

The BJP candidate for Mandi constituency in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, says she is an insider –a daughter and sister born in the hills and thus she is back in ‘Janambhoomi’—a land she left at age of 16 to make her career in the modelling and film world.

“I worked hard and made my mark, won national awards and accolades. Yet, I was always treated as an outsider in Bollywood. But here all are my family and they will also pardon me for small mistakes if I commit,” she says to strike her chord with locals, speaking in chaste Mandyali, the local dialect.

Yet, it’s not all a smooth affair as her nomination as BJP candidate in the constituency has left some of the aspirants angry and upset with the party—signalling a new rebellion on the lines of 2022 state Assembly polls.

During 2022 state Assembly polls, the BJP could not deal with party rebellion and thus had to suffer badly losing power to Congress.

The number of Assembly seats won by the BJP in 2022 came down to 25 against 44 in 2017 and the Congress got victory on 40 seats, in 68 member House.

“There were at least 21 party rebels contesting the poll against the official candidates from tribal constituencies like Kinnaur to Mandi Sadar” recalls Praveeen Sharma, a political analyst, who contested as a rebel.

Those annoyed over the selection of the candidate (Kangana) included former MP Maheshwar Singh, a BJP veteran, who was forced to withdraw his candidature from Kullu because his son Hiteshwar Singh had decided to contest Banjar Assembly constituency in Kullu as party rebel.

Former Chief Minister Jairam Thakur was rushed to Kullu to pacify Singh and seek his support for Kangana Ranaut.

Singh remains adamant. Rather he has reminded the party leadership about his promise to consider his case for the 2022 Lok Sabha candidacy in lieu of his

retiring from the state Assembly contest. Despite this, the party had lost the Kullu seat to the Congress.

A three-times MP and scion of the erstwhile royal family of Kullu, Singh admits that the party high command decision for Mandi ticket to film actress has a lot of opposition. “I urge high command to review its decision,” he says.

BJP leader and former minister Ram Lal Markanda has resigned from the party along with his supporters after Congress rebel

Ravi Thakur who voted in favor of the BJP in Rajya Sabha elections was given a ticket for Assembly bypolls from Lahaul and Spiti.

“I have left the BJP along with my supporters and would definitely contest the Assembly polls,” he says.

There is a possibility of him contesting from the Congress party, Markanda hints.

He did not reach Mandi on Monday when the party had called a meeting to introduce Kangana Ranaut as candidate.

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