Stakes high in Mandi; kids of Sukh Ram, Kaul Singh to slug it out

Mandi, November 2: The political scene in Mandi, popularly known as “Chhoti Kashi”, is going to be a fight between the reputation of two stalwarts — former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram and Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur – with the children of the two having entered the fray.

The fight is between Anil Sharma, Rural Development Minister, son of Sukh Ram, and debutant Champa Thakur, daughter of Kaul Singh. While Anil is a two-time MLA, Champa is the chairperson of the Mandi Zila Parishad.

What is interesting is the fact that Anil is contesting on the BJP ticket after having switched sides. He has been representing the seat since 2007, but the fear of being undercut by both Congress and BJP cadres is haunting him. With his induction into the BJP being opposed by the local unit, it is uncertain whether he will get their full support.

Basically, Anil is banking on his father’s clout, who wields a considerable influence. Sukh Ram has a tall stature in Himachal politics as he has been an MLA and MP since 1962. Anil is also looking forward to the support of voters inclined towards his father and the family.
The Congress found its formidable candidate in Champa, who besides being the Health Minister’s daughter, is a known face. She is the zila parishad head. Champa connects well with the rural populace, mingles with them and makes a strong appeal.

Since a large number of people are condemning Anil for indulging in politics of convenience, it remains to be seen how many of the Congress cadre he can carry with him.
A parking lot, 24-hour water supply, better road connectivity and construction of Paddal ground are the main poll issues. The constituency comprises 32 gram panchayats.

Sourced from The Tribune