The Big Himachal Face-Off: Know the CM Candidates of BJP, Congress
Here’s a quick background on the chief ministerial candidates of the BJP and Congress in Himachal Pradesh.
It’s the incumbent Congress, led by Virbhadra Singh, versus the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 9 November. The opinion polls so far predict a majority for the BJP, but Virbhadra Singh’s familiarity with the region could play in Congress’ favour.
Here’s a quick background on both the parties chief ministerial candidates.
Virbhadra Singh is the oldest candidate in the fray. He was born on 23 June 1934 at Sarahan, Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh.
An alumnus of Bishop Cotton’s School in Shimla and St Stephen’s College in Delhi, Singh is a veteran Congress leader who began his Lok Sabha career in 1962.
The BJP and the Congress have, since 1983, been alternating to form a government in Himachal, barring a brief period of President’s Rule between 1992 and 1993. Singh has been an active politician through all of these phases, and his political career has seen many highs and lows, including corruption charges which he is still reeling under.
Some in the party argue that Singh has prevented a younger generation of leaders from prospering in the state. His 28-year-old son, Vikramaditya Singh, who has been the head of the Himachal Pradesh Youth Congress, will be making his electoral debut in the Assembly polls.
Prem Kumar Dhumal
Prem Kumar Dhumal is currently the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly and an MLA from Sujanpur Constituency.
Born on 10 April 1944 in Samirpur village of Hamirpur in the hill-state, Dhumal became vice president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in 1982.
He contested elections for the first time in 1984 from Hamirpur constituency but lost to Congress’ Narain Chand.
Considered a popular grassroots leader, Dhumal reached the zenith of state politics in 1998 when he was elected the 12th Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh and headed the BJP-Himachal Vikas Congress coalition government for its full term of five years.
The period also saw a significant infrastructure push, particularly roads. It was for this reason that Dhumal is fondly called the ‘sadak wala chief minister.’
He lost to Virbhadra Singh in 2003 by a huge margin when he was contesting to be the chief minister for the second time, and was left to be the Leader of Opposition. Dhumal came back to power again in 2007, but lost again to his old foe in the 2012 Assembly elections.
The Tribune stated in a report that the party's internal assessment shows good prospects for the BJP in Himachal Pradesh, with Dhumal in the lead.
Dhumal’s son, Anurag Thakur, is also a BJP leader and has been a member of the 14th and 15th Lok Sabhas after winning from Hamirpur. Dhumal will once again fight from his current constituency Sujanpur instead of his turf and BJP stronghold Hamirpur.
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