Cong slugs it out with BJP, AAP for Kangra

The picturesque and tranquil backdrop of the Dhauladhar ranges belies the underlying political tension as three heavyweights from Congress, BJP and AAP slug it out for this Lok Sabha seat that goes to polls on May 7.

In a contest where 12 candidates are in the fray, two-time Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Shanta Kumar of BJP, Chander Kumar of Congress, winner here in 2004, and Aam Aadmi Party’s Rajan Sushant, who won in 2009 on a BJP ticket but resigned from the seat this January, are the three leading contenders.

While corruption tops the agenda in Kangra, which has over 12.4 lakh electors, local issues like expansion of railway network and development of the region into a tourism hub find mention even as most debates inevitably veer towards the presence or absence of the ‘Modi-wave’.

For Shanta Kumar stakes are high as he bids to make a comeback of sorts. Congress has won the seat seven times while BJP has tasted success here on five occasions since 1962.

For Chander Kumar, it is a fight of a different kind as he attempts to win the seat again, given the people’s discontent over UPA’s performance.

As for AAP’s Sushant, who jumped the ship from BJP after raising his voice over corruption issues against the party’s previous regime in the state led by Prem Kumar Dhumal, his task is cut out to convince voters that the new outfit is the best option in the ‘fight’ against corruption.

“There was a similar kind of overconfidence in Delhi also, where they (BJP and Congress) counted us (AAP) out, but see how people proved them wrong.

The same is going to happen in Himachal also. People are looking for change, they are fed up of misrule of both Congress and BJP,” Sushant said.

Raising AAP’s pet topic, he said, “Corruption is a big issue, no doubt about it. I have
challenged Shanta Kumar to an open debate on the issue but he is not willing to take it up.”

BJP’s Shanta Kumar dismissed the AAP challenge, saying, “AAP is out of the contest here. This is a direct fight between Congress and BJP.”

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