Born in Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh in a Rajput family to Captain Mahant Ram and Phulmu Devi on April 10, 1944, Prem Kumar Dhumal’s political career has been a long journey.
Starting as an assistant in the LIC, Dhumal later moved to teaching at university level before eventually moving to politics.
Holder of a degree in Law and a PG in English literature, Dhumal joined the Bharatiya Janata Party as a party worker and served many posts in the party and its youth wing. He served as state secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) from 1980-82; as vice president of the BJYM from 1982-85. He then moved to the party and served as general secretary from 1985-93 before being made the state BJP president in 1993.
Dhumal, 68, has been elected to the Lok Sabha three times – in 1989, 1991 and 2007 (bypolls) – from Hamirpur Parliamentary constituency. He has also served as a member on various Parliamentary Committees.
Dhumal was first elected to the Himachal Pradesh Assembly in 1998 from Bamsan and made the Chief Minister with the BJP coming to power. He won a re-election in 2003 but the BJP lost power this time around and he served as leader of the BJP legislature party till 2007.
In 2007, Dhumal contested in the Lok Sabha bypoll from Hamirpur and won but had to return to the state as Chief Minister for a second term after winning the state polls in December 2007.
Prem Kumar Dhumal (BJP)
In his first stint as the Chief Minister, Dhumal’s pro-development initiatives, especially in the power sector, were lauded. Roads also got a facelift and the education sector witnessed some noticeable improvements.
In his latest term, several new schools and other educational institutions have come up in the state. Among them are the HP Technical University and the State Institute of Food Craft.
Dhumal is described as a leader who has focussed on rail and road transport, education and health sectors, while striving for self-dependency for the hilly state. One of his noticeable initiatives has been the setting up of a voluntary environmental fund.
The BJP’s party structure is considered to be efficient and strong in Himachal Pradesh, something which could help Dhumal win an easy re-election in 2012. Also, the BJP has already named the articulate leader as its chief ministerial candidate for a third term.
This time around, Dhumal is contesting from the Hamirpur Assembly seat after Bamsan was denotified following the re-allotment of constituencies. He is pitted against ex-BJP president Narender Thakur, who has switched his loyalties from BJP to Congress. Thakur is the son of late BJP loyalist Jagdev Chand Thakur.
Virbhadra Singh (Congress)
There were doubts about former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s nomination for the upcoming state Assembly polls on November 4 after he quit the Union Cabinet earlier this year following his implication in a controversial CD alleging suspicious monetary transactions and framing of corruption charges against him in a separate case, but his inclusion in the list of Congress candidates for the ensuing polls has put to rest all those doubts.
Though the Congress has said it would not name any CM candidate both in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, party sources say Virbhadra Singh`s candidature indicates that he is in contention for the chief minister`s post if the party wins the 2012 assembly elections.
Not very long ago the Congress had reinstated Virbhadra Singh as the state party chief. He was removed from the post after the drubbing in the 2007 polls.
Five times chief minister, Virbhadra Singh was born on June 23, 1934 at Sarahan in Shimla to a princely Rajput family.
The 78-year-old Virbhadra Singh continues to be a tall leader in state politics. His fighting spirit has ensured he emerged stronger every time he was ignored by the party.
The 2012 elections quintessentially will be his last political battle.
Virbhadra Singh (Congress)
A post graduate from St Stephen’s College, New Delhi, Virbhadra Singh has been elected to the Lok Sabha five times – in 1962, 1967, 1971, 1980 and 2009. He has served in the ministries of tourism, civil aviation, industries, steel, and micro, small and medium enterprises.
The king of the erstwhile princely state of Rampur Bushair, Virbhadra Singh was first elected to the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 1962 and has been elected as MLA seven times. He moved to the national scene in 1967 before returning to state politics in 1983. Between 1983 and 2007, Virbhadra served as the CM for five terms.
This time, Virbhadra Singh will contest from the recently-created Shimla Rural constituency after Rohru seat was reserved for the Scheduled Castes following delimitation.