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Congress's first ever Gorkha candidate in Mussoorie Vidhansabha has task CUT OUT

Times of India Story
Prachi Raturi Misra
Dehradun :
Mussoorie’s politics is as twisted and winding as the road leading to the hill town. Little surprise that Godavari Thapli, the Congress candidate from Mussoorie constituency, who was denied the ticket in the 2012 assembly elections, has finally got it this year. Thapli is the first ever Gorkha candidate from the Congress here and will take on the BJP’s sitting MLA Ganesh Joshi. Thapli seems to have happily buried her differences with the ruling party’s senior leader Jot Singh Gunsola, who she has often openly criticised. During her campaign in the previous election, when she fought as an Independent candidate, Thapli had even declared that it was a straight contest between her and the BJP candidate, because then sitting MLA Gunsola had been “rejected by the people” for ignoring the development of the area.

Cut to this year, and Gunsola and Thapli met at a town hotel recently and spoke to journalists afterwards. The duo said they would support each other regardless of which of them got the party ticket. With their forces combined, they said, they were certain to regain the lost constituency. Gunsola and Thapli then roundly condemned sitting MLA Ganesh Joshi of the BJP for failing to initiate development of the constituency. “The projects currently underway in the area are being implemented only due to the efforts made by Gunsola and me and the directions of the chief minister,” Thapli added.

The Congress candidate will seek to tap the Gorkha community, which is present in strength in pockets across the constituency, including among ex-servicemen. Sitting BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi had come under the national spotlight because of the infamous Shaktimaan incident in 2016, in which he was allegedly responsible for causing a police horse to fall during a political demonstration. The horse had to have a leg amputated and died afterwards, triggering widespread condemnation.

However, Joshi still remains popular in Mussoorie. It is not uncommon to see him walk to a wedding, especially of members of the lower income group, and hand over an envelope each to the bride and groom’s family, with the bigger one always for the bride. Also Joshi seems to have a grassroots reach. Speaking at Mullingar a few months back, he asked people in the crowd to stand up and tell everyone if any of them had been denied help after approaching him. It had caused several in the crowd to become emotional.

That he has an annual Rakhi celebration for “all his sisters” in town is another point women voters recall. The celebration sees a large number of women gather to offer rakhis to him. Since there are far too many, they are all collected in a big tub. The ‘sisters’ are all given tea, snacks and a gift. In 2016, it was a clock. Whether it means good times ahead for Joshi remains to be seen.

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