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Election 2024

Himachal in for complex poll battle

With Lok Sabha elections and Assembly by-polls being held simultaneously in the Congress ruled state on June 1, BJP faces the challenge to  script a repeat of 2014 and 2019 in Lok Sabha polls, while the Congress is tasked with retaining hold in Assembly segments going to by-polls.

News Arena Network - Shimla - UPDATED: May 15, 2024, 05:25 AM - 6 mins read

With Lok Sabha elections and Assembly by-polls being held simultaneously in the Congress ruled state on June 1, BJP faces the challenge to  script a repeat of 2014 and 2019 in Lok Sabha polls, while the Congress is tasked with retaining hold in Assembly segments going to by-polls.

Himachal in for complex poll battle

Women line up outside a polling booth in Himachal Pradesh.


The small hill state of Himachal Pradesh is in for a complex poll battle this time with Lok Sabha elections and Assembly by-polls being held simultaneously on June 1.

 

The BJP, which had swept the Lok Sabha polls winning all the four seats in Himachal Pradesh in 2014 and in 2019, while losing just one to Congress in the by-poll in Mandi, faces the challenge to repeat the performance.

 

The ruling Congress, on the other hand, which faced the worst rebellion leading to the disqualification of six MLAs in just 14 months of rule in HP, is tasked with retaining the hold in six Assembly constituencies, which were won by Congress in 2022 and are now going to by-polls.

 

What makes the battlefield more complex in the by-polls is that the BJP, which was eyeing power through ‘Operation Lotus’ in HP since Congress made it to power in December, 2022, was quick enough to field all the six Congress rebels, who were disqualified from the Assembly for defying party whip in February last, in the by-polls.

 

Also, the fate of three Independents, who (along with six Congress rebels) supported BJP candidate in the Rajya Sabha poll on February 27, and had later resigned from Assembly and joined BJP, hangs in balance, as they have not got any relief from the High Court, which they approached after the Speaker kept their resignations pending for certain reasons.

 

Even as direct contest is likely between the two traditional rivals in Himachal-Congress and BJP-in Lok Sabha elections and Assembly by-polls, 51 candidates have filed nominations for the four Lok Sabha seats and 33 are in fray for the by-polls to six Assembly constituencies.

 

The prominent faces in the fray in Lok Sabha polls are Union Minister, Anurag Thakur (BJP) in Hamirpur and Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut (BJP) in Mandi, former Union minister, Anand Sharma (Congress) in Kangra and PWD minister in state government, Vikramaditya Singh in Mandi.

 

Anurag Thakur, four times BJP MP in a row, faces a novice Congress opponent, former MLA Satpal Singh Raizada, while Anand Sharma, senior Congress leader, has been pushed to Lok Sabha election for the first time, that too in a constituency he doesn’t belong to. He faces BJP’s Rajeev Bhardwaj, who too is fighting his maiden Lok Sabha battle.

 

Mandi Lok Sabha seat has turned hotseat with a high voltage campaign by Kangana Ranaut of BJP and Vikramaditya Singh, who are not leaving any stone unturned to outdo each other in campaigning.

 

In Assembly by-polls, former Congress minister, Sudhir Sharma is contesting on BJP ticket from Dharamshala, while Sujanpur Assembly segment is witness to complete swapping of ticket—BJP has fielded Congress rebel Rajender Rana (who won on Congress ticket in 2022) and Congress has pushed Ranjit Singh Rana (who contested on BJP ticket in 2022 and lost to Rajender Rana).

 

Apparently, BJP has so far been able to placate the rebels, who were up against the official nominees (Congress rebels) as soon as tickets were announced for six Assembly by-polls, but for former BJP minister, Ram Lal Markanda, who has filed nomination as an Independent candidate in tribal Lahaul Spiti constituency.

 

“We are going to win all the four Lok Sabha seats in Himachal Pradesh as people will vote for Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who has taken our country to prominence internationally by emerging as a world leader. He will become Prime Minister of India for the third time,” said state BJP chief, Dr Rajeev Bindal. He said the BJP will win the Assembly by-polls also as people of Himachal Pradesh were fed up with the Congress government, which has not done anything worthwhile in the state in 14 months of rule,” he said.

 

Bindal said the BJP workers have done a lot of leg work in every nook and corner of the state in advance in the run up to the polls, whereas the ruling Congress party had lagged behind in campaigning and was not able to even finalise candidates on time.

 

For the ruling Congress party, the foremost task is to stabilize the state government with as many numbers as possible by winning the Assembly by-polls. It was reduced from 40 (in the House of 68) to 34 in the House of 62 after disqualification of six rebel MLAs from the Assembly.

 

There is no doubt about it, however, in the number game, the Congress (34) is still far ahead of BJP (25) in the state and it requires to win just one Assembly seat to win a majority in the Legislative Assembly after the by-polls. Yet the party is trying hard to retain as many seats.

 

“The Congress surely has an edge in Himachal. The tickets for Lok Sabha elections and Assembly by-polls have been distributed after a lot of thinking and survey and the party has got good response from the public,” said Naresh Chauhan, Vice President of Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee.

 

Chauhan said people of Himachal Pradesh are politically aware and they will not spare BJP for trying to destabilize the Congress government with money power just after 14 months of rule.

 

He said the Congress government’s achievements in short period, right from restoring the Old Pension Scheme (which BJP is opposed to) for the government employees, employment, provision of Rs 1500 per month to the women to its compassionate approach in providing required relief to the affected people in worst natural calamity last year, despite BJP in state and Centre backing out, are major public issues favouring Congress in Himachal Pradesh,” Chauhan said.

 

 

 

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