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By Shivansh Mishra

New Delhi, November 8: In the 2017 assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) was able to cross the majority mark by winning 44 seats, 18 more than the previous State elections. The BJP had sought the mandate on the basis of promises stated in ‘Sankalpa Patra’.

The incumbent Jairam Thakur-led BJP government appears to have delivered on the promises, besides an effective Covid-19 pandemic management in the State. This should help the BJP break the electoral trends in the state in which the incumbent government is voted out after every poll.

Exit polls by various news channels and survey agencies have predicted that the BJP is again easily dominating the elections by crossing the majority mark of 35. The C-voter survey has predicted that BJP is winning 41 seats, ABP News-CSDS predicted 38 seats for BJP and India Today-Axis predicted 51 seats for BJP in the 2022 assembly elections. The exit poll also indicates that the BJP understood the demand and general mood of the public and worked on the execution of promises made in the ‘Sankalp Patra.’

The cooperation and efforts of the double-engine government transformed various ambitious projects into reality. The launch of Bulk Drug Park and AIIMS, for instance, has transformed the healthcare sector of not only the State but will benefit the entire Nation. The double-engine government had approved the development of a Bulk Drug Park in Himachal, which will reduce the dependency on China for raw materials and help the pharma companies by reducing their expenditure on raw materials. It is expected to attract an investment of over ₹50,000 crores and will provide employment to over 30,000 youth.

The Park would be spread over 1,405 acres in Haroli and would prove a game changer for the people of the region. Further this year, in October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Kothipura in Bilaspur district. It is 750-bedded premier medical institute that provides super specialty medical treatment to the people of the region and is spread over an area of about 247 acres, built with an estimated cost of ₹ 1471 crore.

Also, on the social security front, the BJP government has been able to deliver. The State government has been spending ₹1300 crore on providing social security pensions as compared to ₹400 crores spent by the previous Congress government. In their recent ‘Sankalp Patra’, the BJP has made several new promises, whereas other political parties like Congress have been adamant about the promises made earlier in the different States elections. Nothing new has emerged for the State in their election manifestos apart from adopting populist measures for short-term gain. For instance, Congress had promised to restore the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) in Himachal Pradesh. On a similar line, OPS has been restored in Punjab under the AAP government. Punjab is a debt-ridden State. Undoubtedly, the fiscal burden on Punjab with the restoration of the scheme has been significantly increased and thus, to say in simple terms, there will be gain in the short-term and pain over the long run with such populist policies.

For the 2022 elections, the BJP has made numerous promises like implementation of the Universal Code of Conduct (UCC) in the State, the launch of the Him-startup scheme with a fund of Rs 900 crore for employment generation, increasing the assistance amount for the marriage of girls of BPL families to 51,000, promised bicycles to school girls from class VI to XII and scooties to girls pursuing higher education. Under the startup scheme, about 540 startups got the fund of Rs 8,085 crores in the last five years in Himachal Pradesh. Under the Shagun Yojana, Rs 31,000 was being provided to BPL families for the marriage of the girls.

(Opinion expressed in the article solely belongs to the author)

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