Himachal Election: A Seesaw Game Between BJP and Congress
On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the ballot in Himachal Pradesh after laying the foundation stone for a bulk drug park in Una district. The Prime Minister also flagged the Vande Bharat Express from Andaura in Delhi’s Una district and dedicated the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT)-Una to the nation. The prime minister then spoke at two public rallies, setting the tone for the battle ahead for his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi is also due to address a public rally in Solan on Friday. Congress is banking on the anti-incumbency and voting pattern of Himachal, which has not returned a government since state assembly elections in 1993. The BJP’s top leadership is naughty after managed to retain government in Uttar Pradesh, which has seen different governments since 1990. Its returning officers are busy designing an aggressive polling campaign on Uttar Pradesh lines to beat anti-incumbents if there are any in a.
Himachal Pradesh, apart from being a crucial border state, has seen some interesting voting patterns. He witnessed an up and down battle between the Congress and the BJP. While the BJP is betting on good governance and delivering on its poll promises, Congress and the new Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are trying to topple the ruling party with handouts and alternative governance.
Let’s take a look at the ongoing issues and voter voting pattern in Himachal since 1993. Congress lost its greatest leader and six-term chief minister, Virbhadra Pratap Singh. Although his wife Pratibha Singh is the President of Himachal Pradesh, the exit of incumbent Himachal Pradesh Congress President and former minister Harsh Mahajan has rattled the Congress.
Mahajan was considered close to the late Virbhadra Singh, but his resignation from Congress and joining the BJP is seen as a major boost for the ruling party. Mahajan joining the ranks of the BJP was the last thing the faction-dominated Congress wanted. Mahajan alleged that there was nothing left in the Himachal Congress after the death of Virbhadra Singh and that its central leadership was directionless.
Himachal has seen direct combat between the Congress and the BJP over the past decades. The two parties have had alternating chances of gaining power since 1993. An assembly election is scheduled for November 2022 to elect 68 members of the Himachal Legislative Assembly. In the last six Assembly elections, the Himachal Assembly recorded the highest number of 52 legislative members of Congress in 1993. In contrast, its tally was the lowest at 21 in the last election in the Assembly, which took place in 2017.
The BJP had its highest tally of 44 in the last assembly election and its lowest tally was 6 in 1993. Congress vote percentage has ranged from 39% (in 2007) to 49% (1993 ) while the voting share of the BJP has ranged from 35% (2003) to 49% (2017).
Buoyed by their blistering victory in neighboring Punjab, AAP entered the fray in Himachal. Will he be able to make it a triangular contest? A good performance by the AAP in the Himachal elections will catapult it into a national party, having already established a foothold in Delhi, Punjab, and to a limited extent in Goa (with less than 7% of the vote and two seats at the meeting).
Based on voting patterns in previous elections, will Congress regain power in Himachal, or will the Modi factor turn the tide in favor of the BJP? The BJP has trusted the current Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and will likely project him as the face of the CM. Will the Congress be able to claim the legacy of its longest serving Chief Minister, the late Virbhadra Singh, after appointing Pratibha Singh (wife of the late Virbhadra Singh) as Head of the State Congress, despite his refusal to be declared the CM face of the party?
The AAP and Congress both pledged before the poll a monthly stipend of ₹1,000 and ₹1,500 respectively, to all eligible women in the age bracket of 18-60, pointing out that female voters could hold the ballot key. State. Many of Congress’ 10-point guarantees have PAA footprints, including 300 units of free electricity for every home, free mobile clinics and English-speaking schools in every constituency.
The BJP, on the other hand, relies on sensitization of youth, women, farmers and various communities including SCs and STs and sensitizes them on the achievements of the state and central governments, including including various social protection programs for farmers. , social security schemes, subsidized electricity for the poor, subsidized bus fares for women, and how the government is focusing on economic recovery in the state from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Youth unemployment due to the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s tourism sector, issues for apple growers and farmers, and welfare schemes for various sections of the electorate (women, SC, ST, and retirees ) will be other key issues for the state election.