The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a huge embarrassment as it lost Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi parliamentary seat to the Congress, besides three other seats of Fatehpur, Arki, and Jubbai-Kothkai.
Congress candidate Pratibha Singh, who is the wife of the late former six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, on Tuesday won Mandi parliamentary seat against BJP candidate and Kargil war hero Brigadier (retd) Khushal Chand Thakur. This was for the first time that a member of Virbhadra Singh’s family contested an election after his demise due to post-Covid complications.
Pratibha Singh won the Mandi seat by defeating the BJP rival by a slender margin of 8,766 votes.
The Mandi parliamentary seat boasts of the world’s highest polling station at Tshigang, located at a height of 15,256 feet in the tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti. In Mandi, the prestige of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and late Virbhadra Singh’s family was at stake. Mandi being his home district, was a litmus test for Thakur to ensure the victory of BJP candidate Thakur, who tried his luck for the first time.
Meanwhile, Congress also won Fatehpur, Arki and Jubbai-Kothkai seats. In these assembly seats, the key contest was between Congress candidate Rohit Thakur and BJP rebel and Independent Chetan Bragta on the Jubbal-Kotkhai seat.
Bragta is the son of former horticulture minister Narendra Bragta, who passed away in June because of post-Covid complications. Thakur won the seat by a margin of nearly 6,000 votes.
Congress candidate Sanjay Awasthy won the Arki assembly seat by 3,277 votes, while in Fatehpur Congress candidate Bhawani Singh Pathania defeated his nearest rival Baldev Thakur of the BJP by 5,652 votes.
The bypolls for Mandi parliamentary and the three assembly seats were held on October 30. The bypolls were held as the seats fell vacant following the death of sitting lawmakers.
The Mandi seat fell vacant after the demise of BJP MP Ram Swaroop Sharma, who was found dead at his official residence in Delhi on March 17. Former state minister and Fatehpur Congress MLA Sujan Singh Pathania, former minister and Jubbal-Kotkhai MLA Narinder Bragta and former chief minister and Arki MLA Virbhadra Singh died in February, June and July, respectively.
(with inputs from PTI & IANS)