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Sunday, July 21, 2024

How BJP botched up its chances of retaining power in Himachal Pradesh

Though the loss in the last year bypolls in December had some alarm bells ringing for the BJP with regard to what was in store for the 2022 assembly elections it took a major botch up on part of the party bigwigs to loose the 2022 elections in the manner in which they did. 

The whole process of loosing the elections  started with  the ticket allotment whereby in an attempt  to settle  political scores within the party tickets were allotted to the followers  of a particular  camp. 

This led to great resentment  amongst the party’s rank and file and 21 rebels who were denied  ticket by the party jumped in the fray. 

Thus the party was facing rebellion in almost one third of the constituencies, setting it on the backfoot at the start of the campaign.

Constituencies of sitting ministers were changed arbitrarily which resulted in the loss of 2 seats instead of one as the contestant could not win from the new seat and the new candidate also lost. 

Thus Suresh Bhardwaj a sitting minister in the Jai Ram cabinet was made to change his seat from Shimla urban to Kasumpti and another sitting  minister Rakesh Pathania was shifted from his original constituency of Nurpur to Fatehpur. 

Both the ministers lost their elections  and in Shimla urban the new candidate Sanjay Sood also lost.

 The kingmaker district Kangra had 5 BJP rebels and the party could win only 4 seats out of 15. 

The sidelining of two time state chief minister prof Prem Kumar Dhumal also proved costly for the party. In a bid to settle political  scores Dhumal  was denied  a ticket from his native constituency and made to sit at home. 

This infuriated  the Dhumal  camp and supporters  and inspite of the PM’s rallies in Hamirpur  the BJP could not win even a single seat in Hamirpur district. 

Mandi district  which is the outgoing CM’s home district saved the blushes for the party as it won 9 out of the 10 seats on offer otherwise  it would have finished below 20 seats in a house of 68. 

Obviously  the calculation  of the party bosses or those who were calling the shots in the State was that they could  make up for the losses in Hamirpur & Shimla – where the party could win only 1 seat out of 8 – elsewhere but  that was not to be as the party was trounced in kangra.

Ultimately 3 rebels won their elections and the rest ensured the defeat of the the party candidates. 

The policy of sidelining  a senior  leader like Dhumal, wrong allotment of tickets resulting in too many rebels within the party and not handling the OPS (Old Pension Scheme) issue intelligently proved to be the undoing for the BJP. Moreover  the Congress succeeded in highlighting the local issues like price rise of essential commodities and cooking gas.

The only excuse for the party strategists is that the electorate of the state lived up to their 37 year old  reputation of booting out the incumbent government. 

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Aman Gupta
Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine


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