Himachal Candidates Bound by Family, but Separated by Parties

For Solan’s reserved seat, BJP’s novice Kashyap is in fray against his father-in-law & Congress candidate Shandil.

4 min read
BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhuma (L); Congress’ Rajinder Rana (R).

They are joined by family ties, but separated on political lines. As the 9 November polling day for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections draws near, they spar with each other on several raging issues – and sometimes get personal too.

For the first time, Congress candidate Rajinder Rana, who has learnt political lessons for years from his once-mentor and two-time BJP Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, is now trying to 'teach' him a lesson through politics.

Rajinder Rana with Virbhadra Singh. 
Rajinder Rana with Virbhadra Singh. 
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Rajinder Rana)
Likewise, candidate Rajesh Kashyap, a doctor-turned-politician, who joined the BJP just a few days before the polls were announced, has been pitted against his father-in-law and Congress candidate Dhani Ram Shandil, a cabinet Minister in the present government.

Similarly placed is Congress legislator Anirudh Singh from Kasumpti, who has been pitted against his aunt and BJP candidate Vijay Jyoti Sen. Vijay Jyoti Sen is the sister-in-law of Congress veteran and six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. Both are related to CPI-M candidate Kuldeep Tanwar.

Dhumal and Rana Face Off

Political observers say the contest is interesting between Dhumal and Rana, who had defected from the BJP, in the Sujanpur constituency in Hamirpur district, the BJP bastion, as they can read Dhumal like a book.

Dhumal is contesting for this seat for the first time, while realtor-turned-politician Rana won it in the 2012 assembly polls as an Independent candidate by a margin of 14,116 votes.
Rajinder Rana. 
Rajinder Rana. 
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Rajinder Rana)

Later, he vacated the seat and unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Hamirpur as a Congress nominee. The vacated Sujanpur assembly seat was won by the BJP's Narender Thakur, a Congress rebel.

Popularly known as ‘Raja Saab’, Virbhadra Singh, who has been projected as the party’s chief ministerial candidate, is leaving no stone unturned to wrest Sujanpur from the BJP.

Likewise, his arch rival Dhumal is devoting his maximum time and energy in the constituency to make it twice-in-a-row for the BJP.

"I am seeking re-election on the basis of my performance in my 15-month tenure as an MLA vis-a-vis BJP's long innings of 36 months," Rana, once Dhumal's campaign manager, told IANS.

He has been repeatedly cornering Dhumal and his MP son Anurag Thakur over alleged misdeeds during the BJP's terms in office.

But septuagenarian Dhumal is focusing on the BJP's central government schemes initiated in this Congress-ruled state. Politics can divide close relatives and even blood relations.

The Solan Reserved Seat

For the Solan reserved seat, BJP's novice Kashyap is in fray against his father-in-law and Congress candidate Shandil, who is more a statesman than a politician.

Both Kashyap and incumbent legislator Shandil rarely trade personal barbs, but harp on the development agenda, a political observer said.

The BJP candidate took premature retirement from a government job and opted to plunge into politics.

The Kasumpti Seat

Three of the six candidates for the Kasumpti seat owe their roots to the erstwhile royal families. They are the Congress’ Anirudh Singh, BJP's Sen and the CPI-M's Tanwar, who is also the state president of the Kisan Sabha.

"They (Anirudh and Sen) are still harping on their glorious past and are least bothered about the downtrodden and the Dalits, who have the maximum number in this constituency," Tanwar told IANS.

Vikramaditya's Political Debut

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh's son Vikramaditya Singh, making his political debut, is in the fray for Shimla (Rural), the seat his father won in the last assembly elections.

He's facing BJP's Pramod Sharma, a professor in Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla, who was once known for close proximity to Virbhadra Singh.

Vikamaditya Singh with his father.
Vikamaditya Singh with his father.
(Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

In Palampur, Congress candidate Ashish Butail came into the BJP's firing line after his assertion that he would ensure development of those areas that were neglected in the past five years.

His father, BBL Butail, is the legislator from Palampur, where BJP has fielded novice Indu Goswami, who is known for her proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The votes cast in the Himachal polls will be counted on 18 December along with those in Gujarat.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in. This article has been published in an arrangement with IANS.)

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