Dharamshala braces for 4th assembly poll in less than 7 years - Hindustan Times
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Dharamshala braces for 4th assembly poll in less than 7 years

By, Dharamshala
Apr 04, 2024 06:34 AM IST

Dharamshala assembly segment went polls in 2017, 2019 and 2022 and now, the defections of Congress MLAs has necessitated in by-election

With Dharamshala going to polls with five other assembly constituencies in the June 1 by-elections, the constituency’s voters find themselves picking an MLA for the fourth time in less than seven years. The elections will coincide with the Lok Sabha polls in the state.

Dharamshala will go to polls with five other assembly constituencies in the June 1 by-elections. (HT FIle)
Dharamshala will go to polls with five other assembly constituencies in the June 1 by-elections. (HT FIle)

Dharamshala assembly segment went polls in 2017, 2019 and 2022 and now, the defections of Congress MLAs has necessitated in by-elections.

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The latest by-elections come as a result of now-disqualified MLA Sudhir Sharma violating Congress whip and abstaining from voting on the financial bill during the recent Budget session. Earlier on February 27, six Congress MLAs (now disqualified), along with three Independents, had voted in favour of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Harsh Mahajan in the Rajya Sabha polls, leading to the loss of prominent Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

The six Congress rebels, Sudhir Sharma, Ravi Thakur, Rajinder Rana, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, Chetanya Sharma and Devinder Kumar Bhutto, were later disqualified. They joined the BJP last month and were alloted tickets from their respective assembly constituency last month.

During the 2017 assembly elections, the contest was between BJP candidate Kishan Kapoor and Congress’s Sudhir Sharma, with the former winning the polls. Notably, Sudhir Sharma was the urban development minister in the then Virbhadra Singh-led government.

In 2019, the BJP nominated Kishan Kapoor to contest the Lok Sabha elections. Consequently, Kapoor resigned as an MLA. Kapoor is currently the sitting MP from Kangra.

Following his victory in the parliamentary elections, Kapoor, who had also served as a minister in the Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government in Himachal, vacated his MLA seat.

A by-election was held in 2019, with BJP fielding Vishal Nehria. Nehria won against Congress’s Vijay Inder Karan. Sudhir Sharma did not contest the elections.

In the 2022 assembly elections, the contest was between Congress’ Sudhir Sharma and BJP pick Rakesh Chaudhary, with Sharma emerging victorious. However, within the first year of the Congress government, led by chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, Sudhir Sharma expressed dissatisfaction with Sukhu’s administration.

The cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha polls in February triggered a political crisis in the state.

BJP’ Kangra district chief Sachin Sharma, said, “Over the past 14 months, the Congress government sidelined Kangra, failing to fulfil their pledges and assurances.”

“Their leaders expressed discontent with the Sukhu-led administration, leading to internal discord and the eventual fallout. The upcoming by-poll is a direct outcome of the political turbulence instigated by the Congress government,” he said.

Puneet Malhi, secretary-cum-media coordinator of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee, said that the Congress came in power with public mandate but BJP tried to topple the democratically elected government.

“Their actions amount to a grave assault on democracy. By awarding tickets to MLAs who engaged in cross-voting during the Rajya Sabha polls, the BJP demonstrated their complicity in creating political upheaval within the state,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Dar Ovais is the Dharamshala-based correspondent in the Himachal Pradesh bureau of Hindustan Times. He covers politics, tourism, Tibetan affairs and environmental issues.

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