Wednesday, February 1st, 2023 08:44:54

Himachal assembly election results : 0.9 % more votes put Congress in power

By Amba Charan Vashishth
Updated: December 17, 2022 3:54 pm

Arithmetic is a branch of the subject of mathematics. But when it comes to electoral arithmetic, it has its own rules. In it 2×2 or 2+2 are not necessarily 4; it could be 3 or 5 also. This fact once again came out to be true when the process of counting of votes for the state assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh (HP)

was concluded on December 08, 2022. With a loss of just 0.9% votes BJP with 25 seats was slipped down from power and Congress with that much gain in vote percentage shot up to the pinnacle of power in the State winning 40 seats in a 68-member house.

Throughout the period of the counting of votes, the ruling BJP and the main opposition Congress continued to play the see-saw game and kept everyone in great suspense.

Himachal Pradesh is, pehaps, the only state in the country where a two-party system virtually prevails and the two contenders — the Congress and the BJP — have not allowed a third party to intrude into their domain. The voters too have lived up to these two party’s expectations. It has now become a ‘rivaaj’ (custom) which is prevailing in the State for the last 37 years. The BJP did try to break this rivaaj’ but failed.

In the past, many national parties like Miss MamtaBanerjeerrecalion’s TMC, Shri SharadPawar’s Nationalist Co ngress Party (NCP), and BSP’s Mayawati have, in the past, tried to test their fate in the placid waters of Himachal elections, but went back with a bloody nose. All their candidates, were mostly those denied nomination by the Congress or BJP. The game failed to click.  This time, AamAadmi Party (AAP) supremo and Delhi CM Kejriwal buoyed by his party’s success in Panjab ventured to make a mark in the neighbouring Himachal. Both Kejriwal and Panjab CM Bhagwant Singh Mann held two-three combined rallies in Himachal. They had a very unlucky experience. The very next day to their Mandi rally, both the AAP’s state President and General Secretary quit and joined BJP. This did not dampen Shri Kejriwal’s spirits. He came up with a fresh set-up of leadership and their trademark promise of free water and electricity. This gimmick too failed to click. Finally, AAP established another milestone with each and every candidate in the state losing their security deposits.

There have been exceptions but by accident. CPM had, in the past, lauched its one 2-3 times. CPM candidate Shri Rakesh Singha had won last time from Theog constituency but this time luck didn’t smile on him and he lost this time.

The multicity of candidates — BJP candidate, BJP rebel, Congress candidate, Congress rebel, and many independents — turned the election scene so intricate that in such a scenario anyone could win and anyone could lose. And this happened once in Kangra constituency where BSP candidate won and in Nahan, LokJanshakti Party scored a victory. But the joy of these parties to have made their presence felt in Himachal proved short-lived.  After some time, both ditched their party and joined the ruling one.

This time 21 BJP leaders rebelled against the allotment of tickets by their party. They fought election and three of them were able to make a win. Ashish Kumar Sharma failed to get a nomination first from BJP and then from Congress. Ultimately, he contested as an independent and won.

The success of independents remained of no value. Neither the BJP nor the Congress needed them. They would have been in hot demand had the electorate voted out a hung assembly. The11 out of 8 ministers of the BJP lost at the.  BJP CM Jairam Thakur won with the highest margin of 38,183 votes. Congress candidate Suresh Kumar was lucky to win with the lowest margin of 68 votes.

Others who joined the victorious team besides the CM were the Speaker Vipan Singh Parmar, Deputy Speaker Hans Raj, and Industries Minister Bikram Singh. Incidentally, in the last week of October the minister was seen on Youtube seeking blessings of Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim when the latter was on parole from jail undergoing life imprisonment for the rape and killing of a disciple.

The oldest and the youngest candidate to score victory are both from Congress: Col. Dhani Ram Shandil, 82, from Solan constituency and Chaitanya Sharma, 28, from Gagret (Una).

Women empowerment in the state got a setback. It is, perhaps, for the first time that the presence of women in the assembly has gone down to just one. Of the 34 women nominees by various political parties, it was only Ms. ReenaKashyap (BJP) who scored victory in Pachhad (Sirmour) for the second time. BJP’s cabinet minister Mrs. Sarveen Chaudhary and four-time MLA lost election this time.  Of the five women candidates nominated by BJP, only Mrs. Kashyap was able to win. All the three women candidates Congress fielded none could find favour with the electorate. Party’s prominent woman face Mrs. Asha Kumari, six-time Congress MLA, former minister, and presently INC National Secretary who could also be a strong claimant to the post of CM, lost her Dalhousie seat. Former HP Congress president Shri Kaul Singh’s daughter, Mrs. Champa Thakur, too lost in Mandi.

People of Mandi district to which BJP CM Jai Ram Thakur belonged, went the whole hog in giving him a big hand by putting nine MLAs (including him) out of 10 in BJP kitty, the same number the BJP had won last time also in 2017.

For the last 37 years, the people of the State had established the ‘rivaj’ to vote for BJP this time and Congress next time. BJP did its very best to break this tradition this time but in vain.  It is a general belief among people and politicians alike that whichever party gets at least 10 nominees out of the 15 seats the State’s bigger district of Kangra has, forms the government. Congress has got10 seats this time.

Another first in the present scenario is that it is for the first time since Kangra, Kullu and other areas merged with HP 1966 that a Congress leader from the lower areas has become the CM. Twice did Shri Shanta Kumar from Kangra district and Prof.Prem Kumar Dhumal from Hamirpur became chief ministers, but they both belonged to BJP.

Incidentally, the new CM Shri Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu also hails from Nadaun in Hamirpur district, but is a Congressman. The crown on his head is strewn with thorns of promises made, threats of groupism and of loans in the name of finances. May God bless him!     As a result of the division of the then Panjab in1966 Kangra district and some other areas from Punjab were merged with Himachal. The area and population of the merged areas were also almost equal to that of the existing Himachal. Yet, during the last 56 years, whenever Congress was voted into power, no person from the merged areas was ever made a chief minister of the State. It was only when BJP was returned to the Vidhan Sabha with a majority that it gave Shri Shanta Kumar and Professor Prem Kumar Dhumal as CMs of the State. It is only this time that the jinx was eliminated and a Congress leader from Nadaun constituency (Hamirpur district) was elevated to this position.

Late Shri Virbhadra Singh had dominated the  State politics since 1983 single-handedly. He did not try to promote an alternative leadership.  He did promote his wife Mrs. Pratibha Singh and son Vikramaditya Singh[AC1] [AC2] , 33. She contested from Mandi parliamentary constituency and win two times. During his lifetime, he introduced his only son Vikramaditya to State politics. He is a second-term MLA from Shimla rural constituency.

Now that Shri Virbhadra was no more, the Congress high command was faced with two important questions. One, who could milk the benefit from Virbhadra legacy and encash his popularity. It could be no other person than his widow, Mrs. Pratibha Singh MP. This alone was the merit in making her the state Congress President. The Congress high command was faced with affluence in the number of the claimants to the office of chief minister. Now that the Congress won a majority in Himachal assembly, it was but natural that Mrs. Singh should lay claim on the post of the chief minister. The real problem will start with the formation of cabinet, fulfilling the generous promises made to the people and facing the dissidence.

By Amba Charan Vashishth

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