Tuesday, 28 June, 2022
HomePoliticsHimachal Pradesh Elections 2017For Himachal photo-finish winners, voters are ‘god’

For Himachal photo-finish winners, voters are ‘god’

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Kasauli BJP candidate Rajeev Saizal won by 24 votes in 2012 assembly polls; the state has seen close contests in 2003 and 2007 as well.

Kasauli (Solan): It doesn’t even take a few seconds for the residents of this small, sleepy town of Himachal Pradesh to recall the results of 2012 assembly elections. After all, who can forget the thrill and the sheer excitement of a match which, until the last minute, could have been anyone’s game.

Two-time MLA Dr Rajeev Saizal of the BJP won this seat in the last election with a margin of only 24 votes. The loser, Vinod Sultanpuri of the Congress, returned home, perhaps feeling like the unluckiest man in Kasauli that day.

The two meet again this time and no one is taking any chances. Saizal, 46, has been preparing his campaign strategy even before his candidature was announced. “Since it was a tough win in the last election, this time he has decided to reach out to every voter possible,” said Amit Gupta, a Kasauli resident, who works for the BJP.

Sultanpuri is all set to take on his old enemy.

“I could have legally challenged the decision because there were many things, which had gone wrong during the counting. But I chose to be patient and instead waited for five years for these elections. For me, the will of god is most important and my voters are my god,” the 35-year-old lawyer said.

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The residents too are looking forward to the five-yearly thriller.

“It was more interesting than a cricket match. First, we heard that the Congress candidate has won. He even distributed sweets and celebrations began. Then the BJP demanded a recounting and Saizal was declared winner (he won by just 24 votes). Let’s see if we have a photo finish again,” said Rakesh Kumar, who runs a shop in Kasauli.

The nail-biting finish is not limited to the Kasauli seat alone. BJP’s Bikram Singh Jaryal defeating Congress candidate Kuldeep Singh Pathania at Bhattiyat in Chamba district by a margin of 111 votes was another close contest in 2012. The two are fighting for the same seat again.

“It is god who decides these things and public is god. All I can say is that this time my victory margin will not be in hundreds but thousands,” Jaryal said exuding confidence.

With a low population density, Himachal Pradesh generally sees close contests in most seats. Another reason is the presence of strong independent candidates in many constituencies, which divide the votes. In the last elections, there were eight contests (out of 68) where the margin was less than 1,000 votes and another seven between a margin of 1,000 and 2,000 votes.

For Himachal photo-finish winners, voters are ‘god’
Congress candidate Vinod Sultanpuri in his constituency. | Source: Chitleen K. Sethi

In 40 constituencies, the margin was less than 5,000 with majority in the 2,000-4,000 range. Only two candidates clocked a victory margin of over 20,000 — Congress MLA from Rohru Mohan Lal Brakta (28,415) and chief minister Virbhadra Singh (20,000) who had contested from the Shimla Rural seat. This time Brakta is fighting BJP’s Shashi Bala in Rohru and the CM meets Ratan Singh Pal at Arki.

In the 2007 assembly polls, Bharmour in Chamba saw Tulsi Ram of the BJP winning by a margin of only 16 votes. He defeated four-time MLA Thakur Singh. In 2012, Thakur Singh came back winning the seat by a 3,500-vote margin, defeating Jia Lal Kapoor. The two are in the fray this time too.

In 2003, current state chief of BJP Satpal Singh Satti won by only 51 votes in Una defeating his rival Virender Gautam. He won the seat again in 2007 by a margin of almost 12,000 votes routing Gautam. The last time he defeated Congress candidate Satpal Singh Raizada by almost 5,000 votes. This time he is again BJP’s choice from Una and is fighting Sat Pal again.

But nothing can match the historic victory of the BJP candidate Ram Dass Malangar by only 3 votes at the Kutlehar seat in 1998 election. The same election threw up two other close contests: the victory of Congress candidate Krishna Mohini in Solan (26 votes) and that of BJP’s Chander Sain Thakur in Kullu (38 votes).


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