Joginder Nagar, the second largest constituency in Himachal Pradesh in terms of voters, is all set to witness a triangular contest between BJP heavyweight Gulab Singh Thakur, Congress candidate Jewan Thakur and independent candidate Parkash Rana Thakur, in this upcoming assembly elections. Located in Mandi, the constituency has nearly 89,600 voters against 90,000 voters in Sulah constituency.
Joginder Nagar holds importance as Gulab Singh, a seven time MLA and whose daughter is married to party MP Anurag Thakur, will try his luck for the 8th time. Though, he had won elections as an independent candidate and from Congress ticket but later switched his loyalities towards BJP. And since 2007 onwards he has been contesting polls on a BJP ticket.
On the other side, Jewan Thakur, a zila parishad member will be contesting in the assembly polls for the first time while the third candidiate in fray, Parkash Rana, is an industrialist and has business ventures in Saudi Arabia. All the key candidates are Thakurs, and they are the key deciders in this election. “Over 47 per cent of the vote bank belongs to Thakurs in this constituency. No doubt we are seeking votes from one and all. However, Thakurs hold importance in this constituency,” said Jeewan who was doing door to door campaign in Darat village Monday afternoon.
For Jeewan (45), it is an election of young versus old. Speaking about Gulab Thakur (70), he said, “He has been a former speaker of Vidhan Sabha and even a cabinet minister, but he has done nothing for the constituency. Moreover, nearly 40 per cent of the vote bank is below 30 years and so I have a fare chance to win the polls because youngsters want a change now.”
Compared to Gulab Thakur and Jeewan, Parkash Rana is the richest candidate in Himachal Pradesh. He declared his assets at Rs 334 crore in the nomination papers while Gulab Thakur’s assets are less than Rs 3 crore followed by Jeewan’s at Rs 85 lakh. Gopal Thakur, a vegetable vendor, said, “It is a tough contest between the trio. Let’s see who wins. The voters are silent this time.”
Information revealed that Rana was seeking a BJP ticket, however, when it was allotted to Gulab Thakur, he decided to contest as an independent. Gulab Thakur while talking with The Indian Express, however said,” It doesn’t matter if someone is rich. Experience matters, which I have the most. I am confident of getting support from the masses.”
Jeewan Thakur, however, is finding it tough to find support from masses as Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is yet to visit this constituency after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Since Pratibha Singh lost elections from the Mandi parliamentary constituency against BJP’s Ram Sarup Sharma, Virbhadra never visited the constituency and hence no announcement was made. “How can he expect that voters will vote for his party,” said a voter Chaman Lal Nag.