The sitting BJP Member of Parliament (MP) from Mandi parliamentary constituency Ram Swaroop Sharma is quite confident of getting re-nominated as the party candidate for the coming parliament election, despite hectic lobbying by rival candidates in the race to get BJP ticket.
Ram Swaroop Sharma, whose candidature has found support from several Central BJP leaders and core committee of state BJP, is already campaigning in the parliamentary constituency and has covered many Assembly segments out of total 17 Assembly segments.
Sharma had proved a “giant killer” and sprung a surprise by defeating Pratibha Singh, Congress MP and wife of then Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, by a convincing margin of over 39000 votes. Mandi constituency had always remained with Congress with few exceptions, won three times by Maheshwar Singh and last time by Sharma in 2014.
His victory was quite remarkable as he was considered a very weak candidate by opposition Congress and by many in his own party. He was pitted against Pratibha Singh in Mandi constituency, considered a pocket -borough of her family being erstwhile rulers, which had been won many times by Pratibha Singh and her husband Virbhadra Singh, six times Chief Minister and a Congress stalwart of Himachal Pradesh.
More so, since Pratibha Singh had won this seat in a by-election in 2013 by a huge margin of over 1, 36000 votes defeating BJP candidate Jai Ram Thakur (present Chief Minister of Himachal ) ,when Virbhadra Singh vacated this seat on becoming Chief Minister of the state. Sharma had stepped in for Jai Ram Thakur, who had opted to stay in the state politics.
Sharma ‘s candidature is being challenged by former MP Maheshwar Singh, former Army officer Kushal Thakur and Ashrey Sharma son of Cabinet Minister Anil Sharma, who had deserted Congress party before the last Assembly election and joined BJP along with his father Sukh Ram. Former Union Communication Minister Sukh Ram, who had enjoyed power for long as Congress minister in the Centre and state cabinet, had been changing sides after his conviction by a Delhi court in a corruption case. He is lobbying hard for the BJP ticket for his grandson, Ashrey Sharma.
Mandi parliamentary seat has become very important for BJP after Jai Ram Thakur, hailing from Mandi district became Chief Minister. His say in selection of BJP candidate would be very important as stakes are very high for him in the coming election.
Confident Ram Swaroop Sharma said, “It is a prerogative of BJP parliamentary board to select the party candidate and I have full faith in our leadership.”
(This story was published in Daily Post on 23rd March 2019)