This will be the 11th election for Gulab Singh Thakur, who has won seven times on different party tickets and lost only twice. Now aged 70, he will be contesting yet another election, which he is calling his last, from Joginder Nagar constituency, which has 89,600 voters. A former speaker of Vidhan Sabha and a former cabinet minister, Gulab Singh is considered an important face of the Himachal Pradesh BJP unit. “I am a seasoned politician myself. I started contesting elections way back in 1977. My daughter got married in the Dhumal family in 2002. The relationship developed much later, but I am in politics from much before,” says the father-in-law of MP Anurag Thakur.
This time, Gulab Singh is pitted against Jeewan Thakur, who is contesting a election for the first time on a Congress ticket, and independent candidate Parkash Rana. Campaigning with a tagline that reads,”This is my last election, vote for me,”, Gulab Singh while speaking to The Indian Express says, “I will stay active in politics but will stop contesting polls after this, my health does not keep well now.”
His supporters are campaigning with a message that he will be a prospective minister in the BJP government since he has already served as a Revenue Minister, PWD minister and even as the Speaker of Vidhan Sabha. However, in his political speeches, he is mainly targeting the independent candidate, Parkash Rana, who has business ventures in Saudi Arabia.
“Rana needs to tell about his offices in abroad and to how many persons has he given employment. What sort of business is he doing, he never revealed these details. Just with wealth you cannot win any election, which he is showing the most. I am confident of winning this election and my margin will be more than 10,000 votes,” he says.
When asked as to why people should vote for him, he said,”I am a popular leader of the area, a seasoned politician. They have all the reasons to vote for me.” His rivals, Rana and Thakur, however, call him a man with selfish motives and say that he won’t work for the development of Joginder Nagar despite being a tall BJP leader. Dismissing their allegations, he says,”I have made roads across the state when I was a PWD Minister and people used to call me ‘sadko wala mantri’. I raised the issue of taking Shanan power project back from Punjab. I provided water supply in all villages. What else a person needs ?”
Thakur, however says,” There is no private hospital in Joginder Nagar, except for a few private clinics. No central school and even from tourism point of view, Joginder Nagar does not figure in Himachal’s map. The BJP candidate needs to tell us what was his contribution in improving the status of the constituency, apart from making himself strong. Unemployment looms large in this constituency and so is illiteracy. He has nothing to boast about.”