For HP stalwarts, delimitation creates new battlegrounds
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Delimitation is likely to play a significant role in deciding the fate of stalwarts in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls.
Take the case of Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. His constituency Bamsan, which returned him as the CM twice since his first election in 1998, stands scrapped. Dhumal has shifted to Hamirpur, earlier represented by Urmil Thakur. The CM chose Hamirpur because 40 per cent of Bamsan has merged into it, the rest has merged with either Sujanpur and Boranj. Thakur, the sitting MLA, has moved to Surjanpur, where she faces her Congress rival Amita Verma and BJP rebel Rajender Rana. However, sources say, it's a win-win situation for Thakur as she faces new voters and will also have the advantage of Dhumal's strongholds from Bamsan area merged into Surajpur.
Five-time CM and PCC president Virbhadra Singh is contesting from Shimla (Rural) as his Rohru constituency is now reserved for Scheduled Caste candidate. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and six-time MLA Vidya Stokes's constituency, Kumarsain, has been abolished. Stokes has returned to Theog after two polls from Kumarsain in 2003 and 2007. Leaving Rohru could have been a problem for Virbhadra. He opted for Shimla (Rural), comprising Shimla's peripheral belt and Suni areas of old Kumarsain constituency. "If the Congress returns to power, the people of this constituency will become a preferred lot in the Chief Minister's Office and there will be a special cell to take care of all your issues," Virbhadra's son Vikaramaditya promised during election meetings with voters.
In Kangra district, delimitation has brought two BJP ministers — Ramesh Dhawala and Ravinder Ravi — face-to-face, and also created a rift between senior party leaders Shanta Kumar and Dhumal. Dhawala has refused to move to Dehra even though parts of his Jwalamukhi constituency has merged with Dehra. His decision has been backed by Kumar. Following the scrapping of his Thural constituency, Ravi, who is close to Dhumal, fought to get ticket from Jwalamukhi. Dhawala put his foot down, and Ravi had to move to Dehra.
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