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Banking on Modi, BJP hopes repeat of 2014 in Himachal

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The hill state of Himachal Pradesh is poised for a direct contest between the BJP and the Congress with the saffron party expected to repeat its splendid 2014 performance when it won all the 4 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

The BJP under a new chief minister, Jai Ram Thakur, managed a well-calibrated election campaign, much before the Congress stepped-in, centred around Prime Minister Modi and national security.

Party's official nominees sought votes in the name of Modi and development. The Congress, grappling with infighting, launched a counter-narrative centred around the failures of the NDA regime under Modi.

Jai Ram Thakur’s government strengthened its base and so far has enjoyed a clean governance track record ever since December of 2017 when it came into being.

Jai Ram was made the chief minister after veteran BJP leader and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal unexpectedly lost in the 2017 Assembly elections.

Jai Ram also commands the credentials of a non-dynast in politics.

Unlike in neighbouring Punjab, the Balakot strikes post-Pulwama have found considerable resonance in the hill state, much to the BJP’s gain.

This election, the BJP replaced two of its 4 sitting MPs: Veteran BJP stalwart and former Union minister Shanta Kumar from Kangra and Virender Kashyap from Shimla.

Shanta Kumar ‘opted out’ sensing that he would not be named a party nominee.

BJP’s Suresh Kashyap now faces Congress' Dhani Ram Shandil from Shimla reserved constituency.

In Kangra, which has 30% OBC population, the BJP fielded state minister Krishan Kapoor against two-time Kangra MLA Pawan Kajal, an OBC.

Dhumal’s son Anurag Thakur, a three-time sitting MP, is seeking re-election for the fourth time from Hamirpur constituency.

He will be against former minister and sitting MLA Ram Lal Thakur of the Congress.

Both Anurag and Ram Lal have contested parliamentary polls three times in the past, but not against each other. While Anurag won all three, Ram Lal lost all of them.

In Mandi, an interesting contest is on way with the entry of Ashray Sharma, the third generation and nephew of former Union telecom minister Sukh Ram (91).

Ashray’s father Anil Sharma was a minister in the BJP's state government but later quit.

He is pitted against BJP’s sitting MP Ram Swaroop.

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