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NOTA Polls More Votes Than Congress’ Pratibha Singh’s Mandi Win Margin Over BJP’s Kargil Hero

Poll reverses in Himachal Pradesh where the BJP lost one Lok Sabha and three Assembly seats in by-elections was one reason that may have well forced the Modi government to rein in galloping fuel prices. However, a closer look at the Mandi Lok Sabha by-elections may reveal that the winner — Pratibha Virbhadra Singh — was not such a popular candidate. Apparently, no one in the Congress was keen that she should win as she is known to be quite an inaccessible person. Widow of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh seems to have won the seat through a series of happy coincidences. Her victory margin — 7,490 votes — against BJP candidate Brigadier (Retd) Khushal Thakur is actually less than the 12,626 NOTA votes polled. Which means there were not many who overwhelmingly voted in her favour. But then it is being said that even the BJP cadre was also not happy with the ticket going to Brig Thakur, a Kargil war hero. That means dislike for official candidates seems to have plagued both the parties and reflected in high NOTA. As for the Congress winning in three Assembly seats in the state it is being said the BJP did not take the challenge seriously. Officially, of course, chief minister Jairam Thakur acknowledged that high fuel prices may have made voters angry.