Himachal Pradesh 2017

Elevation makes Sujanpur fight easier for Dhumal

The BJP’s announcement of Prem Kumar Dhumal as its Chief Ministerial candidate has come as a shot in the arm for the veteran BJP leader, who was facing a tough challenge from the Congress’s Rajendra Singh Rana, who is contesting against him from Sujanpur.

The town is very close to Hamirpur – the place Mr. Dhumal comes from.

But, even as Mr. Dhumal is very popular in Hamirpur town — where people were saying days back that he would eventually be Chief Minister even if the BJP did not formally announce his name — Mr. Rana, whom most people The Hindu talked to in Sujanpur personally know, is no pushover here.

Mr. Rana — who was once in the BJP and was considered close to Mr. Dhumal – parted ways with the saffron party and won the 2012 Assembly polls from Sujanpur with a huge margin of about 12,000 votes as an independent candidate.

But he lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Hamirpur on a Congress ticket, a loss local residents attribute to the Narendra Modi wave at that time.

“If Mr. Dhumal is declared CM-candidate, he will win here. If not, it is anybody’s game here,” said a local shopkeeper hours before Mr. Dhumal was announced as the party’s face by BJP chief Amit Shah.

Subodh Mehra, a cloth merchant who said he was a BJP supporter, cautioned that the Congress may not be a pushover here because of its candidate’s goodwill.

“Mr. Rana had undertaken a large signature campaign for the SDM office, which was in Hamirpur, to be brought to Sujanpur. The Virbhadra Singh government finally agreed and the SDM office is located here now. People credit Mr. Rana’s efforts for it,” he said. “He is also credited with convincing the Congress government here to build a mini-secretariat, which will house all the offices once complete.”

Mr. Mehra said a visit to the SDM office would once consume the entire day, as people would first go to Hamirpur and sometimes wait if the official was not in his office. Now, it is a matter of minutes to reach the office, he added.

Upkeep of roads

However, Mr. Dhumal’s government is remembered for the upkeep of roads, with local residents saying the Virbhadra Singh government worked more for government officials than for improving road infrastructure. Indeed, roads are broken in many stretches across the State.

“Mr. Dhumal would have been an easy winner from Hamirpur. But he has a tough fight here, though his stature may see him through,” said a shopkeeper in the inner market, sipping tea with other shopkeepers.

Clearly, Mr. Dhumal’s elevation has made his task of winning Sujanpur easier, something that was not being seen as a foregone conclusion till days back.

But Mr. Rana claims he is still upbeat. “People have to decide whether they vote for a big name or for someone who has served them door-to-door for years here,” he told The Hindu.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 1:12:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/himachal-pradesh-2017/elevation-makes-sujanpur-fight-easier-for-dhumal/article19969523.ece

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