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BJP likely to make a hat-trick in Himachal Pradesh

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BJP likely to make a hat-trick in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla, June 4 (IANS) In a straight contest between two arch-rivals — the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — the latter may make a hat-trick on Tuesday by retaining all four Parliamentary seats, early vote count trends indicated.

Four-time MP Anurag Singh Thakur is leading in the Hamirpur constituency with 3,43,471 votes, while actor-turned-politician Kangana Ranaut ahead in Mandi with 334,447 votes, Rajeev Bhardwaj leading with 461,564 votes and Suresh Kashyap is leading in Shimla with 359,740 votes.

Four-time Rajya Sabha MP and Congress candidate from Kangra, Anand Sharma, is trailing.

For Sharma, who belongs to Shimla, this would be his first electoral battle for the Lok Sabha. With a political career spanning over four decades, Sharma, who first entered the Rajya Sabha in 1984, is a surprise pick by the party.

Sharma, a founder member of the party’s student wing, the National Students Union of India (NSUI), had unsuccessfully contested the Assembly elections from Shimla in 1982, losing to Daulat Ram Chauhan of the BJP by a margin of 2,945 votes.

Simultaneously with parliamentary elections, the by-poll for six Assembly seats was held on June 1.

The Assembly constituencies were Sujanpur, Dharamsala, Lahaul-Spiti, Barsar, Gagret and Kutlehar.

Of the six Assembly seats, the state ruling Congress has been leading in three seats, while the main opposition BJP in two and an Independent in one constituency.

In Sujanpur, Capt Ranjit Singh Rana of the Congress is ahead of BJP’s Rajinder Rana.

In Dharamsala, BJP’s Sudhir Sharma is ahead of Congress’ Devinder Jaggi. From Kutlehar, Congress candidate Vivek Sharma is marginally ahead of the BJP’s Davinder Kumar Bhutto.

In Gagret, Rakesh Kalia of the Congress is ahead of the BJP’s Chaitanya Sharma. In Barsar, BJP’s Inder Dutt Lakhanpal is leading over Subhash Chand of the Congress.

Former BJP Minister (in Himachal Pradesh Cabinet) Ram Lal Markanda, who is contesting as an Independent, is ahead of his nearest Congress rival, Anuradha Rana, in Lahaul-Spiti.

The BJP, which won all Lok Sabha seats in 2014 and 2019, was banking high on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “charisma” after his three election rallies to retain all parliamentary seats and win six Assembly seats, while the Congress was eyeing its strong vote bank of 2.5-lakh government employees, whose demand of restoring the old pension scheme has been implemented by its government led by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.

The Congress on December 8, 2022, got an absolute majority in the Assembly elections, winning 40 seats — six more than the halfway mark of 34 in the 68-member House, while the outgoing BJP was reduced to 25.

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


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