Himachal Pradesh Election Results 2017: Political families take centre stage as Virbhadra Singh, Prem Kumar Dhumal lock horns
The Himachal election will have a great impact on the fate of two political families of the state — those helmed by Virbhadra Singh and Prem Kumar Dhumal.
Shimla: In a few hours, Himachal Pradesh will get a new government. The common people as well as the politicians have waited for more than a month to find out the results of the votes they cast on 9 November. While the Himachal election will primarily decide the fate of the Congress and the BJP, it will also have a great impact on the fate of two political families of the state — those helmed by Congress' Virbhadra Singh and BJP's Prem Kumar Dhumal.
The Himachal election — a classical example of dynasty politics — has become a high stakes battle for the Singhs and the Dhumals and both chief ministerial candidates must have their families in mind.
Virbhadra and his son, youth Congress chief Vikramaditya Singh are contesting election from Arki (Solan district) and Shimla rural (Shimla district). Virbhadra moved out from Shimla rural, paving the way for his son’s debut.
Dhumal on the other hand, shifted from Hamirpur to Sujanpur amid speculation that party high command had forced him to contest from there instead of Hamirpur, where he won the last election by less than 10,000 votes. Dhumal was not declared the chief ministerial candidate in the beginning of election campaign. However, either as part of its poll strategy or due to political compulsion to keep the cadre intact, the BJP in the middle of the campaign had to announce Dhumal as its chief ministerial face.
Realising the fact that Dhumal is the only mass leader in the party and would be able to keep the flock together, the BJP announced him as its leader in the state. Dhumal campaigned in various assembly segments across the state.
Six-time chief minister Virbhadra and his arch-rival two-time chief minister Dhumal also have their sons’ future to look out for. Vikramaditya is facing his father's one time protege Pramod Sharma from Shimla rural who has fielded by the BJP. However, Singh has the upper hand here.
Dhumal’s elder son Anurag Thakur, three-time Member of Parliament and a known cricket administration is popular across the state, especially among the youth. Thakur is credited for establishing international level cricket infrastructure in the state. However, Dhumal’s younger son Arun Thakur has also entered politics and was active in attacking Virbhadra on corruption charges. He too has high political aspirations and speculation is rife that Dhumal wanted Arun to contest from Sujanpur.
Anurag is seen as the future leader of BJP in the state. He has good rapport amongst voters in the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat that includes three districts — Bilaspur, Hamirpur and Una.
In Vikramaditya's case, if he wins and the Congress loses the state, there will be no cosy atmosphere in which to shape his political career. While Virbhadra’s charisma could help Vikramaditya make a successful debut (if he wins), the Congress has announced Virbhadra as its chief ministerial face and not as the leader of opposition should the Congress lose Himachal. In that scenario, it is believed that the leader of opposition would be from the non-Virbhadra camp and Virbhadra’s pressure tactics to retain power within the party would not be of any use.
If the BJP wins, Anurag would definitely strengthen his image in the state's politics. Earlier in the campaign, when Dhumal was practically on the fringes, some political pundits had predicted the Dhumals' demise in Himachal Pradesh politics. However, luck favoured Dhumal and if the exit polls are to be believed, he and his family could walk into a politically bright future pretty soon.
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