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HP polls: Political lines blur in Kangra as parties bank on turncoats

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KANGRA, Nov 5 (PTI): Battle lines have been drawn in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra Assembly constituency but political lines have blurred with parties fielding turncoats.

Among the six candidates in the fray is the BJP’s Pawan Kumar Kajal, who won the 2017 elections from Kangra on Congress ticket. He joined the BJP in August with Congress MLA from Nalagarh Lakhivinder Rana.

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Kajal is pitted against Congress nominee Surinder Kumar Kaku, who returned to the party in September after a three-year stint in the BJP.

Kangra is one of the five constituencies in the Kangra district, where the BJP is facing a rebellion due to the allocation of tickets to turncoats. The district sends 15 legislators to the 68-member Assembly.

Kajal, 48, however, said he has the support of local BJP workers and they are working for ‘Mission Repeat’ – repeating the party’s government in the hill state.

National leaders of the BJP are also campaigning for Kajal.

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Congress’ Kaku alleged Kajal jumped ship to avoid facing a probe amid allegations of corruption against him.

There has been no development in Kangra in the last 10 years, the Congress nominee claimed.

“Unemployment is the biggest issue here. People here also want the Old Pension Scheme to be restored.

“There is a need for a new market yard for farmers and an engineering college should also be opened in the area,” he said.

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Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Raj Kumar and BJP rebel Kulbhash Chand Chaudhary are also in the race.

A four-time pradhan of panchayat Jogipur, 68-year-old Kumar said voters are looking for a change.

“Voters are very smart. They want to get all the facilities that the people of Delhi and Punjab are getting. We (AAP) have implemented the Old Pension Scheme in Punjab and will implement it here also,” he said.

Chaudhary is contesting as an Independent and exhorting voters to reject turncoats in the elections.

He drives around in his autorickshaw, which is also his election symbol, with his supporters tailing him in their cars.

Restoration of the Old Pension Scheme, which is at the centre of the poll discourse in the hill state, is also on Chaudhary’s agenda.

“I will fight for the Old Pension Scheme. If I win, I will sit on a dharna in front of Vidhan Sabha in Shimla until the Old Pension Scheme is implemented,” he said.

The BSP has picked 59-year-old Vijay Kumar as its candidate from Kangra.

Some of the locals are also upset with local leaders switching parties for political gains.

“Candidates are switching sides for their political fortunes but the local issues remain unaddressed,” said Ramesh, a tea seller.

Naveen, who works at the interstate bus terminal here, said it is very disheartening for voters to see a candidate leave the party they supported in the previous elections.

Polling in Himachal Pradesh will be held on November 12 and the counting of votes will be taken up on December 8.


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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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