A father-daughter duo are at the forefront of the Congress’ effort to wrest back two seats of Mandi district from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the upcoming Himachal Assembly polls.
Seventy-six-year-old Kaul Singh Thakur,a former Cabinet minister, eight time MLA, and a former Pradesh Congress committee (PCC) president is the Congress’ choice from Darang constituency of Mandi district, with the party fielding Thakur’s 48-year-old daughter, Champa Thakur, from the Mandi Sadar seat of the district.
A veteran in politics, Kaul Singh Thakur won in 2007 and 2012 consecutively from Darang, before being edged out by BJP’s Jawahar Thakur in 2017. His daughter Champa is no political greenhorn either having been brought in by the party in 2017 after former Congress minister Anil Sharma switched over to the BJP ahead of the Assembly polls. Though Champa ultimately ended up losing to Anil Sharma, it seemingy has failed to deter the party’s trust in her, setting the stage for Anil Sharma vs Champa Thakur contest 2.0 during the upcoming polls.
In a high-stakes contest like Mandi, barbs were expected to fly thick and fast and the BJP has not held back its punches against the father-daughter duo, using them to target the Congress for allegedly promoting parivarvaad by giving tickets to two people of the same family. Kaul Singh Thakur, however, thinks otherwise.
Soon after filing his nomination papers from Darang, Kaul had held a public meeting where he decided to play on the front foot. “Once a daughter is married, she becomes a part of a different family. Her village changes, her gotra changes. So one can’t really target me. She [Champa] is forging her own political journey after marriage,” he had said then.
Dressed in a kurta pajamas, half jackets, a variety of Himachali shawls and traditional Himachali cap, Kaul Singh Thakur is the crowd puller for the Congress. A heavyweight of the party, many consider Kaul Singh as one of the frontrunners to be named as the possible CM candidate.
As per sources, Champa had entered active politics after getting married in 2005, when she won as a Zila Parishad member of Mandi. She has since won from four different wards, four times consecutively and in 2016 was chosen as the Zila Parishad chairperson of Mandi. “I am not a novice. I know each and every village of this constituency as I have been working here in the Zila Parishad since 2005,” Champa said.