Will dropping Shanta Kumar prove to be costly
Long a Congress bastion, Shanta Kumar was only the second opposition candidate to win Lok Sabha election from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, way back in 1989. Since then Shanta Kumar had won the seat thrice more. However, in 2019, the party has decided not to field the Union Minister and the ticket has been given to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur's close aide Kishan Kapoor, who is a minister in the Himachal Pradesh government.
He is contesting against two time MLA Pawan Kajal who was with BJP earlier. He is an MLA from Kangra Assembly seat. In Kangra, Congress party has the problem of infighting with two senior leaders Sudhir Sharma and GS Bali at loggerheads. Both lost in the assembly elections. Kajal is perceived to be closer to Sharma and it will be interesting to see if the OBC candidate gets full backing of the Bali faction when Himachal Pradesh goes to polls on 19th May.
Among the 17 assembly segments under Kangra Lok Sabha seat, 13 are in Kangra and 4 are in Chamba. In the past, Congress has won the seat 13 times and BJP 6 times. In the last election, Shanta Kumar defeated Chander Kumar by 1.68 lakh votes in 2014. Will BJP's ploy to drop Shanta Kumar prove costly? We will know on 23rd May.