KANGRA (Himachal), Nov 5: The Shanta Kumar-PK Dhumal rivalry will probably damage BJP prospects — especially in politically sensitive Kangra district. In 2012, the Congress party riding anti-incumbency had swept the region winning 12 seats out of 15 Assembly segments.
Pawan Kajal contesting from Kangra seat on Congress ticket is also the sitting legislator. Five years before he contested as independent candidate and had humbled Surendra Kaku of Congress. Ironically, the BJP nominee this time — Sanjay Chaudhary had finished third in 2012 polls.
While BJP has wrested faith on Sanjay yet again — party workers were not surprised when Pawan Kajal’s claim to BJP ticket was rejected by the BJP leadership.
”Actually, the denial of saffron party ticket to Kajal was not the work of party high command. It was done at Shimla and I presume, this was under a deal between Dhumal and Shanta Kumar,” says Anoop Kumar, Campaign Manager for Pawan Kajal in Daulatpur village under Kangra assembly segment.
According to him, Mr Kajal had sought ticket from BJP but apparently rivalry from within BJP stalled his move. ”Shanta Kumar is BJP veteran but he has developed complex also, he does not want anyone to outshine him in knowledge and therefore Pawan Kajal’s ticket was foiked”, he said.
Pawan has mass base and Shanta Kumar does not want any BJP face in Kangra district. Therefore, there is no gainsaying to say that Shanta Kumar’s rivalry with Dhumal had cost BJP dearly and Congress could win 12 out of 15 seats in the district.
The BJP leaders in Hamirpur agree readily about Dhumal-Shanta Kumar is legendary. However, one prominent leader in the district — which is fiefdom of Mr Dhumal – says .. the rivalry is only a thing of past. ..
”Both leaders are working with a united purpose. No BJP leader worth his salt can ignore that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put his own stakes in these elections,” he said. In fact, he also says immediately after his name was announced by BJP chief Amit Shah as BJP’s CM face- Mr Shantakumar was among the first to congratulate Mr Dhumal. In fact, none other than Mr Dhumal confirms this.
“It’s true Shanta Kumar has telephoned me. Our national organisation secretary Ram Lal ji was the first to call. Second call came from Shantakumarji”. So left to themselves — Team Modi and Amit Shah will give the impressipn that the party is united. However, Congress managers have their reasons to believe that Shanta Kumar is still a factor. And they believe …given bit of luck and push up to the last minute …the Congress can win crucial seats like Palampur, Jwalamukhi, Dharmshala and also seats like Sulah and Baijnath. (PTI)
“In 2012, PK Dhumal almost had retained power. But intra-party rivalry played the crucial damaging role and hence the Congress could capture power,” CPI (M) said in a statement. (UNI)