HP battleground: BJP’s CM candidate Dhumal loses

Sujanpur (Himachal Pradesh) [India], Dec. 18 : Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) chief ministerial candidate from Himachal Pradesh Prem Kumar Dhumal has lost the Sujanpurseat to Congress' Rajinder Rana. The chief ministerial candidate lost with a margin of 2933 to Rana. Dhumal first became the vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) in 1982. In 1984, he was selected as the candidate for the Hamirpur parliamentary constituency. He was finally elected as the MP from Hamirpur in 1989 and 1991. He has also served as a member of several important panels of the Parliament such as Consultative Committee, Ministry of Communication, Standing Committee on Transport and Tourism Railway Convention Committee from 1989 to 1996. Dhumal was first elected to the state assembly in 1998 and again in 2003. At that time, he was sworn in as the chief minister of the state, between 1998 and 2002. He was again elected for a second term between 2007 and 2012. During his two stints as chief minister, the hill state saw significant infrastructure developments, particularly of roads. He also oversaw the development of new railway lines as well. This gave rise to Dhumal being called as the 'sadak walla mukhyamantri'. Dhumal has faced few controversies in his political career. He has often been at loggerheads with his Congress counterpart and current Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, over his governance style. In 2007, Suresh Chandel, a BJP MP and a close aide of Dhumal, and six other party leaders were in the headlines for allegedly taking money to ask questions in Parliament. This controversy, also called 'cash-for-questions' scandal, probably led to Dhumal's downfall in the 2008 state elections. In 2010, some controversial CDs purportedly containing the voice of Dhumal, ordering the tapping of union minister Virbhadra Singh's telephone surfaced. Dhumal himself had rubbished those claims and ordered a probe. At an election rally this year, Dhumal lashed out at the Virbhadra-led Congress government for not doing enough in the healthcare sector and said, "the government was creating many scandals everyday". Raising the issue of poor health infrastructure and shortage of doctors, especially in the remote and tribal areas of the state, he said if the BJP comes to power, then an ambulance, along with a doctor, would be stationed at every village of the state. On November 1, just before the polls, Dhumal was unexpectedly announced as the chief ministerial candidate. The health minister, J.P Nadda, emerged as a strong contender, initially, but it was Dhumal at the end, possibly due to his experience as chief minister earlier and caste politics. The socially-dominant Brahmins make up about 30 percent in Himachal Pradesh.
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