Shimla: Contest for the Hamirpur Parliamentary constituency is proving quite a thriller even before all the contestants enter the ring. All attention seems to be on this constituency as little or no campaigning news has been coming in from the other three constituencies. And why not, Hamirpur has attained the status of a celebrity constituency with the Chief Minister having direct stakes in the poll result as he would take all measures to ensure victory for his son Anurag Thakur. But for the time being all the action is happening on the other side with the Congress springing up surprise after surprise. The latest being that former cricketer Madan Lal has been declared ‘retired hurt, and in his place Narinder Thakur would bat for the party.
Surprisingly, quite a lot action happened in a single day for Congress on Thursday as first party spokesman Kuldeep Rathore at a media briefing reiterated that Madan Lal was the ‘official’ candidate for Hamirpur parliamentary seat, and later in the evening news trickled in that the party high command has changed its decision in favour of Narinder Thakur. A few days earlier, the District Youth Congress members had resigned enmass when Madan Lal’s candidature was announced. In between there were also rumours that the Congress may rope in Bollywood actress of Himachali origin, Preity Zinta, to contest against Anurag Thakur, but she did not appear to have shown interest.
Madan Lal, though having all the right contacts in Delhi, failed to convince the electorates about his Himachali origin, and was attacked by the BJP even before he visited Himachal, having been called a tourist.
At the end of the whole drama, if it has really ended, one thing that is clear is that the Congress house is not fighting the elections united. Madan Lal’s candidature had invited initial criticism with some leaders stating that few partymen were trying to help Dhumal by fielding a weak candidate against Anurag Thakur. Opposing Madan Lal’s candidature, former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh even named people who were instrumental in getting him the ticket.
Narinder Thakur may actually prove a good rival to Anurag Thakur, given his support base in Hamirpur and BJP background, but that alone will not be enough to ensure victory for him if the party is to remain divided. All in all, Hamirpur is adding enough colour to electioneering in the state, something not very common in Himachal.