New Delhi, Dec 18: In a shock upset for the BJP, its chief minister candidate in Himachal Pradesh, Prem Kumar Dhumal, was defeated despite his party coasting to a comfortable win overall.
He lost to Congress candidate Rajinder Rana in Sujanpur. Dhumal congratulated his party candidates on their victories, even as he admitted he was “not expecting” his own defeat.
“We could not assure voters in the constituency. There is no point in blaming anyone at this stage. I thank all those who supported me,” he said.
He added that the reasons for his loss will be “analysed later.”
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A two-time former chief minister, Dhumal’s loss puts his party in a fix, and it must now pick a new head of the state government.
Adding insult to injury, Dhumal was upstaged by former aide, Rana, who had been elected to the Himachal Legislative Assembly as an independent candidate, but later resigned to join the Congress in 2014.
“It’s a symbol of people’s confidence in Congress. I am thankful that they made me victorious. We have never stepped back from serving the people in Sujanpur and we will always serve them,” ANI quoted Rana as saying after his victory.
Reports say that 73-year-old Dhumal had been something of a mentor to Rana before he moved to the Congress. Sujanpur is Rana’s home turf and the advantage was evident as he defeated his former political guru.
In a sly dig at Dhumal, whose sons Anurag Thakur and Arun Dhumal are also politicians, Rana had made “Ek Taraf Naam, Doosri Taraf Kaam” his poll plank. Dhumal’s younger son Arun handled the ‘poll prachar’ in Sujanpur, while elder son and Hamirpur MP Anurag had canvassed there.
“My work speaks for myself, a big name (Dhumal) does not matter and people will judge me by that. I am available to my constituents 24×7 and they know that,” Rana had said in the run-up to the November 9 election.
Criss-crossing the state during his election campaign, Dhumal had frequently targeted the Congress over alleged corruption, deterioration of law and order, flourishing of land, forest and drug mafia and financial mismanagement. He had also promised to take the “Devbhoomi” (land of Gods), as Himachal is called, to new heights if the BJP wins the polls.