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Heavyweights lose: Ministers, would-be ministers bite the dust in HP

Ranjeet Jamwal | Chandigarh |

More often than not, it’s a surprise to see a Chief Ministerial (CM) candidate lose an Assembly election.  But the results of polls for Himachal Pradesh Assembly threw many surprises not just for winning Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) CM candidate, Prem Kumar Dhumal,  but many sitting ministers in Congress government and would-be ministers in the next BJP regime also ended up in the losers’ list.

The BJP candidate from Sujanpur, Dhumal bit the dust  by a margin of over 2900 votes to the Congress candidate and sitting member of legislative Assembly (MLA), Rajinder Rana of the Congress.

Dhumal had successfully contested in 2012 Assembly polls from his home constituency Hamirpur, but he was asked by the BJP to contest from Sujanpur in the same district. This constituency (Sujanpur) is part of Hamirpur Lok Sabha constituency represented by former CM Dhumal’s son Anurag Thakur for three consecutive terms.

Throughout the  various rounds of counting, Dhumal kept trailing  his former close aide, Rana, even as his supporters kept praying and hoping against hope  for his victory.

This was despite the fact the rival Congress’ CM candidate, Virbhadra Singh, secured victory from a new constituency, Arki, held previously by the BJP.

Virbhadra vacated his Assembly seat, Shimla Rural, for his son, Vikramaditya Singh.

Besides Dhumal, the BJP suffered shock defeats in at least four constituencies where its candidates were strong contenders for the ministerial berth in the new government.

In Una, BJP’s state president, Satpal Singh Satti lost to Congress’ Satpal Singh Raizada by over 3000 votes.  Satti had won the seat in 2012 by a margin of 4746 votes.

Another  senior BJP leader and sitting MLA from Joginder Nagar (Mandi), Gulab Singh Thakur — public works minister in previous BJP government – lost to an independent candidate and first timer, Prakash Rana  by over 9000 votes.

Likewise, former BJP minister and sitting  MLA, Ravinder Singh Ravi lost to an independent candidate, Hoshyar Singh in Dehra constituency by over 3914 votes. Former Lok Sabha member and BJP candidate from Kullu, Maheshwar Singh, lost the seat to the Congress’ Sunder Singh Thakur by 1538 votes.

Many of the Congress heavyweights also lost the election to the BJP candidates. These include, health minister and eight-time MLA, Kaul Singh Thakur who lost to the BJP’s Jawahar Thakur by over 6000 votes in Darang (Mandi) constituency.

Another minister from Mandi district, Prakash Chaudhary lost to the BJP’s Inder Singh by 12,811 votes in Balh constituency.

In Kangra district, high profile minister (transport) GS Bali lost to the BJP’s Arun Kumar by a margin of over 300 votes. Another minister from Kangra, Sudhir Sharma, lost to the BJP’s Kishan Kapoor by 2900 votes in Dharamshala.

Tribal minister in Virbhadra government, Thakur Singh Bharmouri lost to the BJP’s Jiya Lal in Bharmour constituency.  Four Chief Parliamentary Secretaries,  Rohit Thakur (Jubbal-Kotkhai) Sohan Lal (Sunder Nagar),  Mansa Ram (Karsog) and Rajesh Dharmani (Ghumarwin) also lost the election in their respective constituencies.