The Modi government seems to be feeling the effects of price rise in the country which has made the lives of the common man worse over the last three months.
The Mandi parliamentary constituency bypoll will hold the key in Himachal Pradesh politics as it will decide future power centres in both Congress and BJP with Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur’s image and former CM late Virbhadra Singh’s legacy at stake.
This bypoll holds significance as there has been leadership change at the top level in both parties.
After the 2017 assembly elections, the power centre in BJP has shifted to Mandi district from Hamirpur with Jai Ram Thakur taking the helm by replacing former CM Prem Kumar Kumar who lost elections from the Sujanpur assembly segment.
For Congress, after the demise of Virbhadra, there has been a tussle to reclaim the legacy and if his wife Pratibha Singh wins the bypoll, the power centre of the party will remain in Holly Lodge with the royal family still calling the shots in the state.
Singh’s win against BJP candidate Brig Khushal Singh Thakur will also increase the say of adversaries of Jai Ram in the 2022 assembly elections while her loss will mean that the royal family loses its major stake in the state politics after four decades.
With these issues in mind, Thakur has time and again raised the pitch for Mandi as the constituency has got its first CM since Himachal got statehood status in 1971 and if sources are to be believed, the people may consider this fact in mind while voting in the district.
If the voters of the district vote in the bypolls on these lines, this may prove decisive as the majority of the voters (over 8.70 lakh) are from Mandi district while the rest five districts constitute 4.16 lakh voters out of the total 12.99 lakh voters.
However, the fight in the Mandi Lok Sabha seat will not be a cakewalk for the parties as Pratibha Singh who was earlier considered to be a weak opponent for the ruling party, had come out strongly in the last phase of campaigning.
But it remains to be seen as to whether Singh’s pitch for a vote on price rise and as a tribute to Virbhadra will work in bypolls or whether Jai Ram’s pitch for Mandi’s prestige and development agenda will succeed on 30 October on polling day.
It is worth mentioning here that Mandi parliamentary segment is the biggest constituency in the country in terms of area as it comprises 17 assembly constituencies of six districts of Mandi, Kullu, Lahaul and Spiti, Kinnaur, Chamba and Shimla.
The assembly constituencies in the Lok Sabha seat are Mandi Sadar, Balh, Sundernagar, Nachan, Darang, Sarkaghat, Seraj, Jogindernagar, Karsog, Kullu Sadar, Banjar, Ani, Manali, Lahaul Spiti, Kinnaur, Bharmour and Rampur.