Y.S. RANA , HAMIRPUR (HP)—Hamirpur may be just one of the four Parliamentary constituencies going to the polls in Himachal Pradesh on May 7. But this urban-rural politically awaken constituency is likely to prove an acid test for BJP dissident. The fate of Rajinder Singh Rana considered the “face” of BJP dissidents who has been accomodaed in the Congress just before the filing of nomination papers will be a pointer to whether the voters have taken kindly to the rebel in state’s BJP.
Rebels over the years may have become an important variable in poll arthmetic as ‘X-factor’ in tight battles of ballots, but has raised doubts whether these last minute conversions carry conviction with the constituents. The first sign emerged inside a month of Himachal assembly election with Congress leadership started to win over Rajinder Singh Rana. As poll date nearing the corner many have switched over for greener pastures. The chief minister Virbhadra Singh has been tempted by anti-Dhumal factor in Rana-led rebellion as he is reported to have support of most of Independent MLAs.
Virbhadra Singh sees an opportunity for himself to whip the BJP through its rebel. But taking Rana to its fold has led to a tussle with original partymen in the State leading to indifference, it not open sabotage from the old guard. Mr Rana who hails from Patlandhar in district Hamirpur but is settled in Chandigarh is one of the very few BJP dissidents contesting on the Congress symbol. First time winner from the Sujanpur assembly segment, he was among the first few of BJP who openly revolted against then the chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.
The chief minister Virbhadra Singh believes he can put up a tough fight against BJP candidate Anurag Thakur, congressmen are yet to accept Mr Rana as a Congressman. If the re-think of Virbhadra shapes the Congress’s strategy for May 7 polls, the rebel phenomenon will have come a full circle. But not long ago, Maheshwar Singh rebellion with unravelling of Congress’s support had been reduced to a mathematical equation. He has created a platform for BJP dissidents in Himachal Pradesh to rebel against Mr Dhumal two years ago, a large number of his party felt alienated ande switched their loyalty back to the BJP and Mr Dhumal.
Rana is seen as the Congress mascot in the constituency. The one-time Dhumal’s favourite has renewed muscle flexing after leaving BJP. The dark clouds over the Hamirpur can seriously dent BJP’s estimates that it is strongly placed to dislodge the ‘rebel.’ Pople openly say that ticket to Rana’s wife from Sujanpur assembly seat which goes to poll also on May 7 does not go well with the people of the district.
And the Congress, not a strong force in Hamipur is yet to fully galvanize its energy to help out its candidate in this prestigious battle.The deciding factor however will be the attitude of Rajputs, Brahmin and OBC voters. Rajputs dominate the state with 37.5 per cent followed by SC 26.5 per cent and Brahmin with 18 per cent. Others constitute 16.5 per cent of total population.
The belief that individual leader could hold on to their proclaimed mass base even if they switched tents led to the emergence of a class of political entrepreneurs always on the move.