Himachal election results: Cong wins battle of tradition, faces CM hurdle
“I have handed over my resignation to the governor. Will never stop working for the development of people. We need to analyse things. There were some issues that changed the direction of the results. I will go to Delhi if they call us,” said outgoing Chief Minister Jairam Thakur as he drove to Raj Bhavan to hand over his resignation on Thursday.
The Congress on Thursday wrested Himachal Pradesh from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as it crossed the majority mark of 35 seats in the 68-member Assembly. The state has not voted any incumbent government to power since 1985.
Locals say two factors played an invisible role in the BJP’s defeat: one, the turnout of women in this time was 17 per cent higher than 2017; second, the Agnivir scheme in a state that sends a large number of soldiers to the armed forces.
The visible factors were the Congress promise that it will revert to the Old Pension Scheme at the first Cabinet meeting if it is voted to power; and ‘guarantees’ rather than promises made in its manifesto.
A large part of the problem was also the presence of rebels – and the BJP was unable to persuade the nearly 20-odd rebels who stood against the official candidate.
“This election was four-cornered in many constituencies — there were the official Congress and BJP candidates; and then there were the Congress and BJP rebels,” said local journalist Sunil Chadha. Although only three ‘indpendents’ have managed to win, the BJP’s prospects were marred by rebels who took away a chunk of the party’s votes. The Congress, by contrast, managed, through a combination of diplomacy and threat by general secretary in charge Rajiv Shukla, to make most of the rebels stand down and fare better.
The government’s lackadaisical governance record was to blame for its losses. An airport supposed to come up at Gaggal was shifted to Mandi because that happened to be the CM’s home district. There was a long delay in the establishment of a central university which was an election promise in 2017 — the land was transferred only six months ago and there was no clarity on when it will be ready. Himachal Pradesh relies on road infrastructure to connect the state and many road projects are still stuck because of land acquisition problems.
However, now, the Congress has its work cut out for it. After its towering leader Virbhadra Singh’s death, the party will have to effect a generational leadership change. Singh’s widow Pratibha Singh was elected from his seat, Mandi: but the Congress has not won a single Assembly seat from the Mandi Lok Sabha constituency, although Singh’s son Vikramaditya has won the election. Settling on a chief minister will not be easy.
The Congress has convened a meeting of all its newly-elected MLAs in Himachal Pradesh in Chandigarh after the declaration of results on Thursday, and the meet was likely to pass a resolution authorising the Congress president to elect the CLP leader.
Comments are closed.