Congress clean sweeps all the four seats
Shimla: Congress on Tuesday swept the by-polls in Mandi parliamentary and three assembly constituencies, decimating BJP in the Himachal Pradesh, especially the seats which it held including Mandi Lok Sabha and Jubbal-Kotkhai assembly segment.
Congress retained Fathepur and Arki due to BJP’s miscalculation, internal strife and discontentment among BJP workers in ticket allotment.
Mandi parliamentary constituency was not only a prestigious seat for CM but also the fact that retaining it for BJP was significant, as it was for the first time the leadership of Thakur had been put to test ahead of the Assembly elections in the Himachal scheduled for 2022.
This had the CM camping in his home turf a number of times during campaigning for the party candidate.
However, much to the disappointment the BJP’s candidate Kargil war hero Brigadier Khushal Singh Thakur (retired) who got 3, 62,075 votes lost by a margin of 7,490 votes to two-time MP Pratibha Singh (3, 69,565 votes) and wife of six-time CM Virbhadra Singh.
In the Jubbal-Kotkhai assembly constituency, as expected, it was Congress versus BJP rebel Chetan Bragta (independent) poll battle.
Congress candidate two-time MLA, Rohit Thakur secured 29,955 votes, while Chetan Bragta got 23,662. Thakur won the seat by a margin of 6,293 votes.
Chetan Bragta was denied the BJP ticket at the eleventh hour and for him, the sympathy card worked significantly placing him comfortably as a runner up. The seat had fallen vacant after the demise of his father Narinder Bragta, three-time MLA.
BJP candidate Neelam Seraik got only 2,644 votes (losing security deposit), causing major embarrassment, despite the fact that CM Jai Ram Thakur and Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur had campaigned and sought votes in her favour.
In the Arki segment, although BJP was able to mollify disgruntled party workers not to contest election as independent, however, it seems to have failed to translate on the ground, as a result, Congress retained the seat and Sanjay Awasthi (30,798 votes) won by a margin of 3219 votes, defeating the BJP candidate Rattan Singh Pal (27,579 votes).
In Fathepur as well Congress retained the seat, as Bhawani Singh Pathania defeated his BJP rival, Baldev Thakur, by a margin of 5,789 votes. While Pathania secured 24,449 votes, Baldev Thakur got 18,660 votes.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur talking to media persons soon after the results poured in, accepted the verdict of the public and said
“We will review the results. Winning and losing are part and parcel of the journey of any political party. We will contemplate on the shortcomings and work towards ensuring the victory of BJP in the Assembly elections scheduled next year.”
The victory of Congress is by the thinnest margin in the history of Mandi Lok Sabha elections, he added.
Meanwhile, Congress State President Kuldeep Singh Rathore has sought the resignation of CM Thakur after defeat on moral grounds.