Triangular contest at Chamba; BJP looks to profit from Cong’s rebel woes
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What should aid Chauhan is the presence of the Congress rebel Raj Singh in the poll fray.
With the opposition party deciding to field Nayyar this time as well, Singh has filed his nomination as an Independent. The decision to go with Nayyar was taken after former Congress minister and three-time Chamba MLA ( 1993, 1998, 2003) Harsh Mahajan decided not to contest again. Mahajan had defeated B K Chauhan by a significant margin in the 2003 Assembly polls.
In all, there are nine candidates here, including four Independents, prominent among whom is Chamba Mayor Anita Thakur.
The constituency covers the areas of Sach pass, Gudiyal, Uteep, Luddu, Rajera, Janghi of Panjla and Chamba Municipal Council of Chamba tehsil. Of the 66,000 voters, nearly 70 per cent (46,000) belong to the rural areas.
This is another factor that works in the favour of the BJP candidate and sitting MLA. Chauhan belongs to the Gaddi community, which dominates the rural population in the constituency. Considered a loyalist of senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar, B K Chauhan is actively campaigning in the rural areas of Chamba these days. "The Congress is crippled by infighting. The party's rebel candidate Raj Singh is definitely going to make an impact on the Congress' vote bank. BJP has done ample amount of work in the constituency in the last five years. Also, Virbhadra Singh's perception in people's minds has changed. Charges have already been framed against Virbhadra Singh and now latest scandals about his properties, incomes are also based on documentary evidences. This will definitely dent the Congress' image, not only in Chamba, but in the entire state," Chauhan says.
On the other hand, the Congress candidate Pawan Nayyar and party rebel Raj Singh are eyeing the BJP's rural votebank. "A few of the major issues which need to be immediately addressed are unemployment, lack of development in Chamba, lack of connectivity to rural areas, lack of tourism and many more. After being a Congress loyalist for many years, I applied for the party ticket this time, but was refused. I was persuaded by people of Chamba to contest," says Raj Singh, a contractor by profession.
The Congress candidate, however, is quietly optimistic.
"Ever since I was defeated in 2007 Vidhan Sabha polls, I started working even more. As far as the rebel candidate Raj Singh is concerned, he will not even be able to save his security deposit. People are with the Congress and we will definitely win this time. We suffered a major setback, as Congress' former Minister Harsh Mahajan escaped from the constituency, which left doubts in people's minds. I also got the party ticket very late last time, because of which we suffered a defeat. However, the scenario has totally changed this time. The people's mandate will prove this," says Pawan Nayyar, who is also the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee's Secretary.
Among the other prominent issues, being focused by almost all the candidates here include a lack of industry, job avenues, bus and taxi stand and parking, among others.
"Regarding the town, major problem is of sanitation. We have given the sanitation contracts to people. Regarding the development and maintenance of drains and roads, construction of community halls and various other amenities for people of Chamba; parking problems need to be redressed. All these are our key focus areas. Around Rs 154 crore contract has been approved for construction of a multilevel parking in Chamba. We are looking for an adequate site, for construction of this parking. I myself belong to a rural background and understand the problems being faced by the people living in far flung villages of Chamba", said Anita Thakur, Chamba Mayor, who is also contesting as an Independent.
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