Dhumal, Shanta on sidelines; BJP slogs in Himachal for trend reversal

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, November 2: The victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2017 Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections was largely attributed to the unity efforts of the party veteran Shanta Kumar and the former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. Five years later, both the BJP veterans find on the political margins within the party, while they still command strong following in areas which account for more than half of the Assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh.

The BJP leaders claim that the outcome of the Himachal Pradesh elections is certainly not guaranteed to be favourable, arguing that the saffron outfit would have to spring electrified electioneering to for trend reversal in the state where the incumbent government is being voted out since late 1980s. Octogenarian Shanta Kumar who shared dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2017 Assembly election campaigns in the Kangra region is a forgotten leader by all accounts for the top brass of the party now. Yet, he’s known to command strong followings among the BJP workers, besides his appeal is stated to be intact among the people.

Shanta Kaumar had always been outspoken, and he has lived up to his reputation by coming down heavily over the granting of frequent parole of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief and rape convict Ram Rahim. The BJP government in Haryana is accused of allowing Rahim on parole, while he gives out online Satsang where the party leaders have bene seen participating. Kumar is no more campaigning, but his messages could turn the tide against the BJP.

Dhumal, who had lost the 2017 Assembly poll from the Sujanpur seat, while his supporters had claimed of sabotage, is also not seen actively campaigning, and the onus has come on his son and Union Minister Anurag Thakur to slog for the party in the Hamirpur and the adjoining districts, which are stated to be the areas of influences for Dhumal. The political observers in Himachal Pradesh concur that the people have respect for the stalwarts from the state, which has been enjoyed by late Virbhadra Singh, former Chief Minister, Dhumal, and Kumar.

With an army of independents from among the BJP workers in the fray, fingers appear crossed in the saffron outfit, as the incumbent Chief Minister Jairam Thakur struggles to demonstrate his appeal across the state. Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah, the BJP chief JP Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with their whirlwind public meetings are seeking to whip up wind from the top in favour of the saffron outfit.

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