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  India   All India  24 Feb 2019  Himachal Pradesh Congress infighting to help BJP in LS polls

Himachal Pradesh Congress infighting to help BJP in LS polls

THE ASIAN AGE. | TANVEER THAKUR
Published : Feb 24, 2019, 2:29 am IST
Updated : Feb 24, 2019, 2:29 am IST

The BJP had made history in Himachal by winning all four Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections for the first time.

Virbhadra Singh
 Virbhadra Singh

Shimla: The infighting within Himachal Pradesh Congress has given a head start to the BJP before the parliamentary election around May. The BJP had won all four seats in the last parliamentary elections and is comfortably placed for a repeat after winning Assembly elections.

The Congress is yet to put its house in order and is seriously gripped by infighting. Many senior Congress leaders are not keen to contest the parliamentary elections due to the party’s weak position in the state.

Congress sources said there is talk of roping in disgruntled BJP leaders like Maheshwar Singh and Suresh Chandel to contest as Congress candidates.

Incidentally, both have worked as BJP state president and sMP in their long political careers. Mr Chandel (60), a three-time BJP MP who served the state president of the party from 1998 to 2000, has met the Central leadership of the Congress besides being in regular touch with state Congress leaders, including former chief minister Virbhadra Singh and AICC In-charge Rajni Patil. Similarly, Maheshwar Singh (70), is learnt to be in touch with Congress leadership.

The BJP had made history in Himachal by winning all four Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections for the first time. Even this time. the BJP wants to repeat its performance, and to its advantage the BJP, unlike Congress, is not marred by factionalism. Another major advantage that it enjoys is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is well aware of the political situation and ground realities in Himachal as he has remained the party incharge of Himachal for six years.

To its advantage, there is no major dispute within the BJP with regard to candidate selection with at least three of its four sitting Lok Sabha MPs are likely to be repeated.

“As of now, there is no proposal to change any of the candidates except in Kangra, where the Central leadership will decide whether Shanta Kumar will be in fray or not,” said state BJP president Satpal Singh Satti. The party’s Central leadership has already taken feedback on the party’s prospects on all four seats.

Mr Satti as the state party president, who has been in office for the past seven years, has added to the BJP’s strength. He took over the reins of the party in February 2012 and is the longest serving BJP state president. He is a man who enjoys acceptability and support of every senior leader, be it the chief minister, Union health mnister J.P. Nadda or the two former chief ministerss - Prem Kumar Dhumal and Shanta Kumar.

Much to the delight of the BJP, the Congress leadership changed state party president Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu just before the Assembly polls. Congress president Kuldeep Rathore is still getting his act together and selecting his team.

So far, 40 leaders have formally applied to the state unit for the Lok Sabha tickets for four parliamentary segments in the state. However, none of the senior party leaders like Virbadhra Singh, Congress Legislature Party leader Mukesh Agnihotri and former minister G.S. Bali have applied for a ticket.

Despite clear indications that Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh or son Vikramaditya Singh are among the frontrunners for the Mandi seat, neither of the two have so far applied for a party ticket. Virbhadra Singh and his wife had represented this Lok Sabha seat earlier.

Tags: lok sabha polls, himachal pradesh congress