WITH SIX days left for the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, candidates of two parties — Ram Kumar Chaudhary of Indian National Congress and Paramjeet Singh Pammi of BJP — are trying their best to reach out to voters in 34 gram panchyats comprising more than 700 villages and one municipal council at Baddi in Doon constituency, which falls in Solan district.
Although an Independent candidate, Inder Singh Thakur, is in the race, political observers maintain that the fight is between Chaudhary and Pammi, who were once close friends. Pammi was considered to be close to Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. In the last elections in 2012, Pammi contested independently and secured third place, polling a total of 10,600 votes. Chaudhary, who fought on the Congress ticket, won the election by securing 15,520 votes.
Chaudhary is banking on his development work, including projects worth Rs 12.88 crore, in the constituency. “I debate only the issues of development. I never ignore any caste, area and section of society in my constituency. I have a report card of more than 28 development projects, including education, roads, health services, public infrastructure, which were completed in the last five years in Doon constituency,” Chaudhary said during an election meeting at Patta.
Pammi highlights the issues of mining mafia, toll taxes on trucks and family domination of Chaudhary on a number of business projects in the area. “All the development works were completed only on papers. See the condition of roads of Baddi and other rural areas in this constituency. Development cannot be achieved by merely inaugurating buildings and approving projects. There should be something on the ground, which is not evident in Doon area,” Pammi said at an election meeting at Housing Board point in Baddi. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar too attended this election meeting.
Ram Kumar Chaudhary
Ram Kumar Chaudhary is the son of four-time MLA from Doon constituency, Lajja Ram. Chaudhary had hit the headlines when he was arrested in connection with the murder of Jyoti Devi of Hoshiarpur in Panchkula in January 2013. He was acquitted in September 2014. Immediately after his arrest, Chaudhary was also suspended from primary membership of the party but later his membership was restored after his acquittal. In 2012, he contested the election for the first time and won the seat with a margin of 3,830 votes.
Paramjeet Singh Pammi
Pammi has been a long-time supporter of the Congress but joined the BJP in December 2016. Loyalists of Pammi say when Chaudhary was behind bars for his alleged involvement in the murder case, Pammi took care of Doon constituency and he was the face of Congress in this area. During this period, Pammi grew close to Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. He fought independently in 2012 elections and secured 10,600 votes.
Both the candidates are updating their election rallies, meetings and door-to-door campaigning on social networking sites, including Facebook and WhatsApp. Live videos of rallies are being shared by the personal staff members of both the candidates after every two hours.
Doon constituency is dominated by Gujjar, Rajput and Lubana communities. The constituency has more than 61,000 voters.