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Stakes high for Himachal CM as wife making debut in Dehra bypoll

IANS | July 09, 2024 07:38 PM

SHIMLA: In a straight contest between traditional arch-rivals Congress and the BJP, the stakes are high for Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu with his wife Kamlesh Thakur making her electoral debut from one of the three Assembly seats where bypolls will be held on Wednesday.

She's in the fray from Dehra, the constituency in Kangra district that was carved out after delimitation in 2010 and the Congress has never won this seat. The other two seats are Hamirpur and Nalagarh.

The Chief Minister campaigned aggressively in Dehra, compared to two other seats, to ensure victory for political greenhorn Kamlesh Thakur, who is in the fray against BJP nominee Hoshiyar Singh, who won the seat as an Independent candidate in 2022 for the second consecutive time.

In 2012, Ravinder Singh Ravi of the BJP was elected from Dehra.

To woo the electorates, Sukhu during the campaigning said, "Dehra will technically get a CM (Chief Minister) if they elected his wife".

Sukhu is a four-time sitting MLA from Nadaun in the adjacent Hamirpur district, while his wife hails from Chamnal village that falls under Dehra.

The main opposition BJP, which has won all four seats in the just concluded parliamentary elections, has fielded K.L. Thakur from Nalagarh and Ashish Sharma from Hamirpur, where they will take on Congress' Hardeep Bawa and Pushpendra Verma, respectively.

Both K.L. Thakur and Ashish Sharma won the seats as Independent candidates in 2022, before joining the BJP earlier this year.

The duo, along with Hoshiyar Singh, resigned from the Assembly in March and joined the BJP. The bypolls were necessitated after the Speaker accepted their resignations on June 4.

A total of 315 polling stations have been set up for the by-elections to Dehra, Hamirpur and Nalagarh Assembly constituencies, an election official said.

As many as 217 polling parties have been sent to voting stations.

The ballots will be counted on July 13.

Earlier, in a major reprieve to the government, the Congress won four out of six bypolls on June 4. However, it lost all four Lok Sabha seats to the BJP for the third time in a row.

With four new legislators, the Congress has stabilised its government in the state. Currently, the Congress has 38 MLAs in the House of 65, while the BJP has 27.

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