Anurag Thakur (BJP) and Pawan Kajal (Congress)
The politics in Himachal Pradesh has been revolving around the Congress and the BJP over the years. The BJP is looking forward to winning all the four seats in the state again, while the Congress will try to stop the BJP to make a sweep once again. In 1996 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress had won all the seats in the state.
The BJP has won the Hamirpur Lok Sabha seat nine times barring 1996 when it lost the seat to the Congress. Kangra is considered to be a stronghold of Shanta Kumar. He has won the seat four times in 1989, 1998, 1999 and again in 2014. The politics in Mandi has been dominated by Virbhadra Singh, Sukh Ram and BJP's Maheshwar Singh as all of them won the seat thrice. Shimla has been the fiefdom of the Congress party but it lost the seat in 2009 and 2014. There is no third force in the state and the battle will be fought between the two national parties in Himachal Pradesh.
According to News Nation exit poll results, the BJP is likely to win three seats, while the Congress may end up winning just one seat.
Himachal Pradesh voted in a single phase on May 19. Polling was held in Shimla, Kangra, Mandi and Hamirpur seats in the seventh and last phase.
Himachal Pradesh: Key contests
Hamirpur (2014 Result: BJP, Winner: Anurag Thakur, Margin: 98,403) 2019 candidates: Anurag Thakur (BJP) Vs Ram Lal Thakur (Congress)
The BJP has been winning the constituency since the 1998 elections. In 1999 and 2004, Suresh Chandel was elected as the MP from this constituency. He was succeeded by Anurag Singh Thakur, who won majority in 2009 and 2014 elections.
Kangra (2014 Result: BJP, Winner: Shanta Kumar, Margin: 1,70,072) 2019 candidates: Kishan Kapoor (BJP) Vs Pawan Kajal (Congress)
Shanta Kumar, the BJP heavyweight in the state, won the seat in the 1999 elections. The seat was taken over by the Congress in 2004 when Chander Kumar won. In 2009, the BJP made a comeback when Rajan Sushant won. Party veteran Shanta Kumar fought again in 2014 and emerged victorious.
Mandi (2014 Result: BJP, Winner: Ram Swaroop Sharma, Margin: 39,856) 2019 candidates: Ram Swaroop Sharma vs Ashray Sharma
In the 1999 elections, BJP candidate Maheshwar Singh won the seat from Mandi. He was succeeded by Congress candidate Pratibha Singh. Former chief minister Vibhadra Singh was elected MP from Mandi in 2009. The BJP made a comeback with Ram Swaroop Sharma in the 2014 elections. Home of chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, Mandi is an important constituency of the BJP.
Anurag Thakur: Thakur has held the seat since 2008 when his father, Prem Kumar Dhumal, vacated it after he took over as Himachal Pradesh chief minister. Thakur again won the seat in 2009 and 2014. Thakur was appointed as the BJP’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha. Thakur replaces Rakesh Singh, who was recently made Madhya Pradesh BJP president. Thakur, a key voice of the party in the Lower House, was president of the BJP's youth wing.
Pawan Kajal: Kajal, a builder by profession, was initially associated with the BJP. He was elected Kangra Zila Parishad member twice. He contested the 2012 Assembly elections as an Independent from Kangra seat after the BJP denied him ticket and won. He joined the Congress ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls and got re-elected from Kangra on the party ticket.