Bahra University

Shimla: With bye-elections round the corner and political activity taking ground, the Jubbal-Kotkhai assembly constituency, already has speculation rife with family fiefdom to weigh heavy for both Congress-BJP.

The constituency seat got vacant after the demise of BJP sitting MLA, Narinder Bragta (69) who passed away due to post Covid complication in the month of June.

Congress is most likely to field Rohit Thakur, a two-time MLA and grandson of former two-time Chief Minister, Ram Lal Thakur, while Chetan Bragta, eldest son of Narinder Bragta is the front runner for BJP.

Chetan is head of the IT Cell of BJP and has remained active in BJYM and Shimla assembly constituency for last 12 years.

Both have already jumped into the fray, holding meetings with electorates and party workers and feeling the pulse of the voters.

Narinder Bragta, a three-time MLA (twice Jubbal-Kotkhai and Shimla-Urban) is said to have been in the close circles of former Chief Minister Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal and had been twice minister during his term of Chief Minister-ship. After Dhumal had been projected as the CM face in the 2017 elections people and full faith that he would have been inducted as a cabinet minister, as Dhumal himself during a public rally at Jubbal-Kotkhai had dropped a hint.

The people of the constituency supported his victory although the margin was quite thin 1062 votes.

Of the total 54,706 votes, Bragta took lead in 58 polling booths out of 127 getting 27,466 votes, while Rohit Thakur (Congress) managed to get 26,404 votes.

Although he was not given a cabinet berth by the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur government, yet his fiery disposure could not be ignored and a post equivalent to cabinet rank Chief Whip was created.

He also was made the in-charge of the state government’s Jan Manch programmes. The towering leader of the apple belt, Narinder Bragta had always played a pro-active role in the farmers’ movements.

A close game may not be expected this time and chances are high that BJP could be ousted from the seat if it fails to give a suitable candidate, as the stature of Rohit Thakur in the region cannot be ignored. 

Public expectations are at play, that Chetan can forward his father’s legacy and sympathy votes can also help.

Active on social media and leaving no stone unturned to raise the emotional appeals in his public address, Chetan never forgets to mention the development claims of Narinder Bragta.

BJP has appointed Urban Development, Minister Suresh Bhardwaj as the party in-charge of Jubbal-Kotkhai bye-elections and it is to be seen how it translates in making BJP retain the seat.

Keeping in view, the constituency was a traditional Congress seat, where BJP has won only twice (won by Narender Bragta in 2007, 20017) and Congress rebel Ram Lal Thakur won the seat for Janta Dal in 1990, putting up a poor candidate is likely to cost the ruling party dear considering the fact that, besides Chetan Bragta there are other claimants emerging if media reports are to be believed.

Neelam Saraik former Zila Parishad Member, Dr Sushant Deshta are also seen as the BJP contenders for the party ticket.

15 august 2021