Six-time Congress MLA Asha Kumari is trailing in Himachal Pradesh’s Dalhousie assembly seat with BJP candidate D S Thakur in the lead, according to the Election Commission. Kumari is among the chief ministerial probables in case the Congress wins the assembly elections. Dalhousie in Chamba district shot into limelight after veteran Congress leader and former chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s aide Harsh Mahajan joined the BJP and queered the pitch for arch rival Kumari, who is seeking re-election from the constituency. His support to Thakur was a boost for the BJP that is looking to come to power in the hill state again.
Mahajan is the son of former Congress stalwart Des Raj Mahajan who was assembly speaker twice and had won from the Dalhousie constituency in 1967, 1972 and 1982.
The Dalhousie seat has a large rural population (89.78 per cent) and saw bad roads and shortage of staff and infrastructure in health facilities and educational institutions becoming major poll issues. Kumari, who is from the erstwhile royal family of Chamba, was elected for the first time in 1985 and got reelected in 1993, 1998, 2003, 2012 and 2017. The former Congress in-charge of Punjab and an ex-minister, Kumari is the tallest leader in the district. In 2012, Kumari had defeated her BJP rival Renu Chadda with a margin of 7,365 but in 2017, her victory margin against Thakur reduced to 556.