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Rebel trouble for BJP in Lahaul-Spiti, Dharamsala

Division of votes may queer the pitch for saffron party | Six Assembly segments also going to polls on June 1

Rebel trouble for BJP in Lahaul-Spiti, Dharamsala

Rakesh Choudhary campaigns in Dharamsala. Tribune photos



Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 16

The presence of two prominent rebels in the Dharamsala and Lahaul-Spiti Assembly byelections could queer the pitch for the BJP as the division of votes may cost it dear.

Former minister Ram Lal Markanda during campaigning in Lahaul valley. Tribune photos

To contest as Independent

  • Peeved at being denied the BJP ticket for the byelection, Markanda has filed nomination as an Independent candidate from the Lahaul-Spiti seat
  • Rakesh Chaudhary, who was the BJP candidate from Dharamsala in the 2022 Assembly poll, has also filed nomination as an Independent candidate after the party gave ticket to turncoat Ravi Thakur

Got raw deal

Though I was hurt and in no mood to contest the byelection, my supporters persuaded me to fight as an Independent candidate as they feel I have been given a raw deal. — Ram Lal Markanda, Independent candidate from lahaul-spiti

The BJP has expelled the two rebels — former minister and three-time MLA Ram Lal Markanda and Rakesh Chaudhary, who was the BJP candidate in the 2022 Assembly poll — but their presence in the byelections as Independent candidates is giving anxious moments to the saffron party. The byelections are being held in six Assembly segments in Himachal along with the parliamentary elections on June 1. Sources said though the BJP had expelled the two leaders, efforts were being made to persuade them to withdraw from the contest so that they could not dampen the party’s prospects in the two Assembly segments. However, the possibility of the duo withdrawing from a keen triangular contest appears bleak amid claims by the BJP leaders that the Congress government in Himachal would collapse when the election results are declared on June 4.

Peeved at being denied the party ticket for the byelection, Markanda has filed nomination as an Independent candidate from the Lahaul-Spiti seat. “Though I was hurt and was in no mood to contest the byelection, my supporters persuaded me to fight as an Independent candidate as they feel I have been given a raw deal,” he says. Markanda is equally unhappy with the Congress for giving a false assurance of ticket till the last minute.

He had polled 8,332 votes (44.32 per cent) in the 2022 Assembly poll but lost to then Congress candidate Ravi Thakur by a margin of 1,616 votes. Incidentally, Lahaul and Spiti has the lowest number of 25,732 votes in the state.

Similarly, Rakesh Chaudhary, who was BJP candidate from Dharamsala in the 2022 Assembly poll, also becaime defiant after the party gave ticket to turncoat Ravi Thakur. Chaudhary belongs to the OBC community, which has a sizeable presence in the Dharamsala constituency. He had lost the last Assembly election to Sudhir Sharma of the Congress by a margin of 3,126 votes. Sharma is now the BJP candidate from the seat. Chaudhary’s performance on his electoral debut was impressive as he polled 24,038 votes (40.06 per cent) compared to 27,323 (45.53) that Sharma got. He will now take on the Congress and the BJP in a triangular contest. Dharamsala has 83,461 voters.

POLL SNIPPETS

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Expelled SAD leader joins BJP in Punjab

Chandigarh: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Ravikaran Singh Kahlon on Thursday joined the BJP here on Thursday, a day after he was expelled by the Sukhbir Singh Badal-led party. Kahlon was welcomed into the party fold by Punjab BJP chief Sunil Jakhar and party leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa. Kahlon is the son of former Punjab Assembly Speaker and Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Nirmal Singh Kahlon.

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Sirsa: German MP Rahul Kumar Kamboj has reached Sirsa to campaign for BJP candidate Ashok Tanwar. On Thursday, Kamboj toured Bhuna, Fatehabad and Sirsa to conduct a public contact campaign. Kamboj is an MP from Frankfurt, Germany. He was elected an MP on March 18, 2021. He is the first Indian to become an MP from Germany. He has visited Sirsa several times before also.

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