Rebels hand over defeat to BJP in Himachal Pradesh
By Manish Anand
New Delhi, December 8: Congress comfortably won the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. The BJP has reasons to rue the missed chances, for the party lost the polls by polling jut less than one per cent less votes than Congress.
The Election Commission’s late afternoon report on Thursday stated that while Congress had polled 43.9 per cent votes, the BJP was too close with 43 per cent votes. But the difference in the number of seats won was too wide for the two parties. Congress was on course to win 39 Assembly seats. The BJP accepted defeat after the party’s prospects were reduced to just 26 seats. Three independents, who are stated to be the BJP rebels, are also on course to win the elections. Himachal Pradesh Assembly has a total of 68 seats.
While the incumbent Chief Minister Jairam Thakur won with record margin from Mandi, he also led the party to victory in most of the constituencies in the district. But Congress gained strongly from its traditional bastion of the Shimla district, as the party swept the polls. Kangra district again favoured Congress. The BJP faced most of the rebels in the Kangra district. The saffron outfit was also without the services of the former Union Minister Shanta Kumar, who has long been sidelined in the BJP.
Most of the ministerial colleagues of Thakur such as Suresh Bhardwaj, Ram Lal Markanda, Sarveen Chaudhary lost the elections in a clear sign that the people stuck to the electoral tradition to vote out the incumbent government. Congress leader Anand Sharma, however, argued that the people in Himachal Pradesh voted against the Agniveer scheme, which envisages four years of contractual services in the armed forces. Ground reports on the campaign trail had also shown that the youth and the army veterans had been seething against the BJP because of the Agniveer scheme.
Also, Congress counted gains on account of the promise to implement the Old Pension Scheme. The BJP after finding being pushed to the wall had also promised to work for the implementation of the Old Pension Scheme. Himachal Pradesh has a large electoral constituency of the government employees and personnel of the armed forces.
While the Aam Aadmi Party has made a strong entry in Gujarat with almost 13 per cent vote share, Himachal Pradesh has rejected the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit. The AAP polled just about one per cent vote share in Himachal Pradesh, and none of the candidate of the party was in close contest on any of the seat.