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Constituency Watch: Union Minister Anurag Thakur eyeing 5th consecutive term from Hamirpur

IANS | April 17, 2024 10:14 AM

HAMIRPUR: Union Minister and sitting BJP MP Anurag Thakur is eyeing to win Himachal Pradesh's Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat for the fifth time in a row, while the Congress is yet to announce its candidate for the parliamentary constituency.

This time, he is aiming to surpass the 2019 historical win with a victory margin of about 4 lakh votes, underscoring the electorate's continued support for BJP in the hill state.

Hamirpur is BJP's bastion from where Anurag Thakur's father and two-time Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal was thrice elected as an MP.

Traditionally, this Lok Sabha seat, made up of 17 assembly constituencies, has been with the BJP since 1998, when Suresh Chandel was elected as the MP. He continued till 2004.

In 2007 Dhumal became the MP from Hamirpur but he later resigned to take over as the Chief Minister. This necessitated the bypoll and since 2008, Anurag Thakur has been the MP. His maiden electoral victory was at the age of 34.

Ground reports say it will not be a challenge for the Union Minister to retain this seat as legislators of three of five Assembly seats in Hamirpur, the home district of the father-son duo, which were earlier won by the state ruling Congress in December 2022 polls, have switched sides and joined the BJP.

The Congress won four of the five Assembly constituencies in the district while an Independent won the seat, once the stronghold of the Dhumal family.

In the run-up to the vote, Rajinder Rana, who had won as a Congress legislator from Sujanpur -- from where Anurag Thakur's father Dhumal used to contest, is in the fray as the BJP candidate for the Assembly by-poll.

Likewise, Congress turncoat legislator Inder Dutt Lakhanpal from Badsar is in the fray for the Assembly by-poll as the BJP candidate.

Rana and Lakhanpal were among six MLAs who faced disciplinary action from the Congress for cross-voting after the BJP won the lone Rajya Sabha seat in the state.

Independent legislator Ashish Sharma from Hamirpur has also extended support to the BJP in the Rajya Sabha poll.

"The Congress is facing a challenge to win the BJP's bastion, despite the Chief Minister, for the first time in history, belongs to Hamirpur district, " a political observer told IANS on Wednesday.

The parliamentary constituency has a significantly high literacy rate. It consists of 17 Assembly segments, which include all five segments of Una district, five from Hamirpur, four from Bilaspur, two from Kangra and one Assembly segment from Mandi district.

Banking on the Narendra Modi factor, Anurag Thakur believes when "you work and deliver there is no question of anti-incumbency, rather there is pro-incumbency".

The Congress, which last won the Hamirpur seat in 1996, in 2019, pitted then-sitting legislator Ram Lal Thakur against Anurag Thakur. The latter got elected that too with a record margin of about four lakh votes, with a vote share of 69 per cent.

In every parliamentary election in the state, which witnesses a bipolar contest between the Congress and the BJP, Hamirpur has been witnessing more aggressive campaigning as compared to the other three Lok Sabha constituencies -- Shimla (reserved), Kangra and Mandi.

In his political pitch, it is always Anurag Thakur's father and two-time Chief Minister Dhumal who plays an important role by devoting maximum time and energy to ensure his son's victory. He has thrice represented the Hamirpur parliamentary constituency and has amazing rapport.

BJP leaders told IANS that even the Union Minister, whenever he got time from his busy schedule in Delhi before the election announcement, has devoted time and energy in his constituency.

Of and on, he's campaigning across the country and seeking votes for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's third term.

Back to his "home pitch", the former BCCI chief's dedication to cricket saw him create modern infrastructure in the small hill state that saw India trouncing England by an innings and 64 runs to win the fifth match of the series at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) stadium in Dharamsala on March 9.

Interestingly, BJP's National President J.P. Nadda, who has represented the Bilaspur (Sadar) assembly seat thrice also falls under the Hamirpur parliamentary constituency. In December 2022 Assembly polls, the BJP won all three seats in Bilaspur.

The only saving grace for the state ruling party is that BJP-backed Hamirpur Municipal Committee president Manoj Minhas joined the Congress last week along with councillor Raj Kumar. This development comes days after former BJP president of Sujanpur block Rakesh Thakur joined the Congress.

In the 2019 general polls, the BJP had won all four parliamentary seats. Later in the bypoll, the Congress won the Mandi seat.

Speculations are rife that the Congress may field Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri's daughter, Aastha, from Hamirpur. This will be her maiden electoral contest.

Agnihotri belongs to Una, which falls under the Hamirpur parliamentary constituency.

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu and his deputy Agnihotri represent the Nadaun and Haroli assembly seats in the Hamirpur parliamentary constituency.

According to a post on Anurag Thakur's website, he has an impressive attendance of 85 per cent, with participation in 72 debates and a staggering total number of 612 pertinent questions raised in the Parliament. All of which are the highest among young MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha.

In the 16th Lok Sabha, Anurag Thakur's attendance in Parliament has increased to 92 per cent, coupled with participation in 46 debates and the total number of questions tally being 287.

The incumbent Union Minister takes credit for the introduction of new trains and extension of rail links to Himachal, building premier technical institutes and a central university and the extension and maintenance of national highways in the state.

Polling for all four Himachal Pradesh Lok Sabha seats will be on June 1. The results will be out on June 4, as in the rest of the country.

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