Hamirpur (HP), May 1: A fierce electoral battle is in the offing between two Thakurs in this key parliamentary constituency where both personalities as well as issues matter.
Campaigning has picked up after filing of nominations by Sitting MP Anurag Thakur (BJP) and former minister Ram Lal Thakur (Congress) who are locked in a stiff fight in the constituency, considered a BJP bastion. During the past 39 years, the Congress had won the seat three times in 1980, 1984 and 1996 and the BJP six times in 1991, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014 elections.
Both the leaders demonstrated their strength during their roadshows and public meetings which were addressed by senior leaders of the respective parties, given the fact that both the BJP and the Congress have big stakes in this election.
That senior BJP leaders like Shanta Kumar and Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, both former chief Ministers, accompanied Mr Anurag Thakur to the Returning office on the day he filed his nomination showed that he enjoyed the support of the entire party to counter the Congress campaign.
Anurag, the son of Prof Dhumal, had a headstart in the campaigning, having visited his constituency continuously for the past one year, meeting people. Banking upon the legacy of his father, he has been focussing his campaign on the development and good governance of the BJP Government in the state and at the Centre.
Although he had been returned to Lok Sabha twice in 2009 and 2014 from Hamirpur, locals feel that it would not be an easy task for him to achieve a hatrick this time in the wake of fierce campaign launched by the Congress candidate Ram Lal Thakur, a former athelete and five-time legislator.
Anurag Thakur had won the seat in 2014, defeating Rajinder Rana of the Congress party with a margin of 98,403 votes.
The Congress campaign this time has mainly focussed on the non-fulfilment of its promises on the issues of farmers, unemployment and development.
The constituency has been witnessing aggressive campaigning as the contest has become a battle of prestige for Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal to retain the seat for his son.
He has been seen taking time out to reach out to the voters.
On the other hand, Mr Ram Lal Thakur, an MLA, having thrown a challenge to Anurag in the BJP stronghold, has left no stone unturned to wrest the seat with the backing of senior Congress leaders, including former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.
Coming as a blessing in disguise for Mr Ram Lal is the support of three-time BJP MP Suresh Chandel who was caught in a cash-for-query sting operation in 2005. He joined the Congress recently, but was denied the ticket to contest as its nominee from Hamirpur. UNI