Congress wins over Kangra, the kingmaker
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Kangra Lok Sabha constituency has once again emerged as the kingmaker in Himachal Pradesh with the Congress winning 10 out of the 15 assembly seats that come within it. While the BJP could manage only three seats, the remaining two seats were bagged by Independent candidates — both BJP rebels.
With this, Kangra has retained its reputation developed over the past two elections as the district that decides which party rules the state — mainly because it has the maximum representation in the assembly.
In 2003, the Congress won 11 seats in Kangra (out of 16 at that time, before delimitation) and formed the government; in 2007, the BJP concentrated on the district and won nine out of 15 seats and snatched power from the Congress.
This elections, like the previous ones, local issues played played the factor that tilted the scale in this district. Prominent among them were carving out separate districts out of Kangra and getting more tehsils, sub-tehsils in the area; setting up of at least one university; better roads and connectivity; jobs opportunities for the youth and setting up of high schools and hospitals.
Another important factor was that of caste. Rajputs and OBCs form over 60 per cent of the population, while the Gaddi community often plays the deciding factor.
Considering the importance of the Kangra Lok Sabha constituency, stalwarts of both Congress and BJP, including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, LK Advani, Narendra Modi among other bigwigs addressed public rallies in support of their candidates there.
The Congress's victory in Kangra is a major setback for BJP's Shanta Kumar as the district was being considered as his stronghold. Differences between outgoing chief minister P K Dhumal and Shanta Kumar appear to have cost the party dear, leading to the drubbing.
While the Congress registered comfortable victories in Dharamsala, Nagrota, Palampur, Jaisinghpur, Nurpur, Sullah, Fatehpur, Jawali, Jwalamukhi and Baijnath, BJP could secure Jaswan-Paragpur, Dehra and Shahpur. Indora and Kangra were won by Independent candidates Manohar Dhiman and Pawan Kajal, both BJP rebels.