Arti | TNR
The upcoming bypoll for Mandi Lok Sabha seat and assembly seats of Fatehpur and Jubbal-Kotkhai are going to prove to be a litmus test for the BJP government in the state headed by Jairam Thakur since November 2017.
With voters from 19 assembly constituencies, including 17 in Mandi Lok Sabha seat, casting their votes the results would give an indication about the rise or fall in popularity of the government.
The Mandi Lok Sabha seat fell vacant following the death of BJP MP Ramswaroop Sharma. The assembly seat of Fatehpur, in Kangra district, fell vacant following the death of Congress MLA Sujan Singh Pathania and Jubbal-Kotkhai assembly seat in Shimla district fell vacant due to the death of BJP MLA Narendra Baragta.
The focus for BJP and Congress, however, would be on Mandi district. For BJP, which currently has its MLAs in nine out of the 10 assembly seats in the district, it would be a question of holding on to its seats and ensuring that it wins the Lok Sabha seat. The 10th assembly seat in Mandi has an independent MLA, who favours BJP. This, along with the fact that Chief Minister Jairam Thakur hails from Mandi, makes it imperative for BJP to retain the LS seat.
While BJP would also have to strive hard to retain the Jubbal-Kotkhai assembly seat, for Congress it is a must to retain its Fatehpur assembly seat which is considered to be a party stronghold.
The BJP cannot ignore the fact that Congress had gained an edge in four municipal corporation elections held in April this year. BJP faced crushing defeats in Solan and Palampur civic bodies and managed to win the Dharamshala civic body with the help of independents. Mandi municipal corporation was won by BJP with total majority.
Talks on for bypoll candidates
Both Congress and BJP have yet to declare their respective candidates for the three by-polls. BJP core committee held discussions over probable candidates but it has already designated cabinet ministers for working out strategies for the by-polls and as in charge for various regions. Senior BJP leaders have been appointed as coordinators for the Lok Sabha and assembly seats. Congress is yet to make any concrete moves even as recently Congress co in-charge Sanjay Dutt did seek a feedback from party men on the areas bound for by-polls.
EC writes to state government
Election Commission of India has already written to the state government seeking its reply on the state of preparedness for the proposed by-polls. With covid cases down from 28 per cent to two per cent, the state government has affirmed its readiness for the by=polls. EC is likely to make an announcement for the dates of the by-polls soon.