Lahaul Spiti constituency set for Triangular contest

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Shimla, Nov 11 (UNI) The stage is set for a triangular contest between the Congress, the BJP and the BSP in Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul Spiti assembly constituency, which goes to the polls in the first phase on November 14.

While the Congress has nominated Mr Phungchog Rai after denying ticket to the sitting legislator Raghubir Singh, the BJP has named Ram Lal Markanday as its candidate from the constituency.

The presence of BSP candidate Bir Singh Rawal, a retired doctor with the rare distinction of having three fellowships from the World Health Organisation (WHO), in the elections has made the going tough for both the traditional rivals, the Congress and the BJP.

The constituency is divided into Lahaul and Spiti Valleys, which are separated by the mighty Kunzum Pass at 14,000 feet, with a total electorate of 22,800.

The Congress candidate is from the Spiti Valley, which accounts for 7,066 votes, and the BJP and the BSP candidates are from the Lahaul Valley, which has 15,743 votes.

Dissidence was likely to mar the BJP's prospects in the constituency after two district leaders Ringjin Harapa and Mohan Lal Relingapa resigned from the party, alleging that party workers had been ignored.

They alleged that by giving ticket to Mr Markanday, who had recently joined the party for ''personal gains'', the party had overlooked the claims of senior leaders who had remained with the party for years.

However, not all was lost for the BJP whose candidate has remained in constant touch with the electorate during the past five years even after losing the last assembly polls.

The Congress, on the other hand, was sitting pretty with the sitting legislator, despite indicating to ''keep all his options open'', has been campaigning for the official party candidate.

While state Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh was single handedly leading the Congress's campaign in the tribal constituency, former Union Minister and BJP's National Vice President Shanta Kumar and former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal were leading the party's campaign.

BSP's state convenor Vijai Singh Mankotia and state party president Man Singh Manhera were holding rallies at several places in the district in support of their candidate Bir Singh Rawal.

The people of the rural constituency are seeking better marketing facilities for their agricultural produce of potato, peas and hopps, besides better mobile telephone connectivity.

The residents are also demanding better irrigation facilities to irrigate a vast stretch of their dry agricultural land.

UNI

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