Mandi (Himachal Pradesh): Brought together by politics, they have turned from foes to friends and are all set to fight it out jointly in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh assembly elections.

Congress rebel Mast Ram and the BJP's Joginder Pal, both former legislators, have joined hands and formed a political outfit, the Joint Vikas Manch, to contest the November 4 elections against both the national parties from Karsog (reserved for the Scheduled Castes) in Mandi district.

"We are fielding Mast Ram as our candidate from Karsog seat," Joginder Pal told reporters on Monday. He said both "the parties just believe in use-and-throw policy". The Congress' Mansa Ram, who contested on the BJP ticket from Karsog in 2007 assembly polls, is up against the BJP's Hira Lal, a sitting legislator who won the election as an independent. The denial of nomination to Mast Ram and Joginder Pal has triggered shadow boxing within the Congress and the BJP.

The rebels hope this will cause disgust among voters of their previous parties and will benefit them. Mansa Ram, a former minister and five-time legislator, is originally a Congress leader who switched to former union telecommunication minister Sukh Ram-led Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) in 1998 and later joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

He returned to the Congress after he lost the last assembly elections to Hira Lal by a margin of over 5,500 votes. As many as 45.9 lakh Himachal voters will cast their ballots on November 4 and the results will be declared on December 20.


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