Shimla : Former India cricketer Madan Lal faces a troubled electoral pitch in Himachal Pradesh’s Hamirpur constituency with some sections of the Congress revolting against his nomination and a powerful opponent in fellow player Anurag Thakur, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) candidate.
Anurag Thakur is not just the BJP’s MP from the constituency, having won the by-election in May 2008 by 174,666 votes, but also Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s son who has the entire might of the state BJP behind him. He is a former cricketer too, having represented Punjab in the Ranji Trophy.
To make matters worse for Lal, a faction of the Congress has already raised the banner of revolt against him because they wanted defected BJP leader Narinder Thakur instead.
“We have decided not to support Lal as he is an outsider. Some Congress legislators, particularly from the Hamirpur parliamentary constituency, played games against his (Narinder Thakur’s) candidature,” said Joginder Thakur, district Congress spokesperson.
He has also announced his resignation from the post over the selection of the cricketer at the behest of some “state Congress leaders who are hand in glove with Chief Minister Dhumal”.
Disclosing that Lal would be in Hamirpur Thursday to begin his campaign, Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Kaul Singh Thakur said: “We were supporting the candidature of Thakur as we personally feel that he is the only candidate who can give a tough fight to the Dhumals in their citadel.”
Declaring that there was no question of going against the high command’s decision, Kaul Singh also said some party leaders played behind the scene games by opposing the name of Narinder Thakur.
Party sources said Lal’s name was suggested to Congress president Sonia Gandhi by a group of state leaders led by Congress Legislature Party leader Vidya Stokes.
“There was no difference of opinion among state leaders on the selection of candidates for all the four seats, including Hamirpur. The selection was the unanimous decision of the party, everybody should respect him (Lal),” she maintained.
For the BJP, and Dhumal in particular, the Hamirpur seat is crucial.
BJP’s Suresh Chandel had won the seat in the 2004 polls but was suspended after the cash-for-queries scam in parliament. In the by-election that followed, Dhumal won from Hamirpur but had to resign in 2007 after becoming chief minister, necessitating another by-election in which son Anurag Thakur emerged victorious.
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