A faction-ridden Cong to fight Dhumal’s clout
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If he returns to power, Dhumal will be first non-Cong CM forming a successive govt in the state. But for this, he has to ensure that veteran leader Shanta Kumar is fully by his side
Himachal Pradesh is set to witness one of its most interesting electoral battles where Prem Kumar Dhumal's five-year term will be on test against a faction-ridden Congress, which will attempt a comeback after it lost the state in the 2007 Assembly elections.
Dhumal is leading the state's first all-BJP government, though he had also headed a government in alliance with former Union minister Sukh Ram's Himachal Vikas Party (HVC) in 1998. The party has a strong presence in the outgoing Assembly, as it had won 41 of the 68 seats. Three Independents also back the government and the lone BSP MLA, elected from Kangra, had merged his party in the BJP. Thus, the BJP had the support of 45 MLAs in the 68-member Assembly. Among the three independents supporting the government, Rakesh Verma (Theog) and Hira Lal (Karsog) have been been given party tickets this time.
This time, the Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP) — led by former BJP state president Maheshwar Singh — is set to queer the pitch for the BJP. The party has entered into a seat sharing arrangement with the CPM and CPI to contest all 68 seats. The CPM had recently proved its mettle by winning posts of mayor and deputy mayor in Shimla.
If he returns to power, Dhumal will be first non-Congress chief minister forming a successive government in the state. But for this, he has to ensure that veteran party leader Shanta Kumar is fully by his side. The party is not free from rivalries, particularly in its stronghold of Kangra where ticket distribution is struck because of a rift between Kumar and Dhumal. In the run-up to the polls, the BJP had announced that it will make its five-year performance and the Centre's "injustice and discrimination" against the state as its major poll plank.
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