Himachal Election 2022: More than 55 lakh voters will vote in 68 assembly seats of Himachal Pradesh today. At the heart of the battle is whether the BJP succumbs to the Himalayan state’s “custom” or tradition of changing the government.
The ruling BJP, which has been selling the face of Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Jai Ram Thakur, has been emphasizing that ‘sustained’ is essential for development. Its main argument is that the “double engine” – same-party governments in the state and at the center – will ensure that work is not hampered. It cites another Himalayan state, Uttarakhand, as an example of defeating the change-every-election trend.
The Congress, which says the election is about local issues, wants voters to follow a four-decade tradition of voting for the ruling party. The party, which has been in a leadership crisis since the death of veteran Virbhadra Singh, says it will return to power as its seat-wise ticket allocation has been “better than ever”. Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh is the state unit president; among the candidates is son Vikramaditya Singh.
In the BJP, which has 21 rebels, the contest is also a prestige issue for its national chief JP Nadda. He was once a minister in the state under Prem Kumar Dhumal. Mr Dhumal is among those not contesting – he insists he has retired on his own, although he and others “deprived of tickets” have made headlines, even more so because many leaders are on stage. Cried.
The BJP saw Union ministers and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as the aggressive face of its Hindutva ideology to campaign in Himachal. For the Congress, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra held rallies, while her brother Rahul Gandhi did not like to give up his ‘Bharat Jodi Yatra’ for campaigning. Mallikarjun Kharge, the first non-Gandhi leader of the Congress in 24 years, also campaigned.
While the Congress has launched a low-key campaign in PM Modi’s bastion Gujarat, which goes to polls next month, it will need to reverse its fall in Himachal and fire its workers. The party has failed to win or make a significant impact in nine states in nearly two years.
Earlier this year, the Congress lost power to the Aam Aadmi Party in Himachal’s neighboring state of Punjab. AAP is contesting from Himachal, but its focus was on Gujarat.
The Congress’ promise to restore the old pension scheme from pre 2004 became a major issue as there are over 2 lakh government employees in the state. BJP has promised to implement Uniform Civil Code and 8 lakh jobs in the state. On pension, it says that “if anyone restores the old scheme, it will be BJP”.
These elections come ahead of next year’s elections to nine states, including the Hindi-speaking states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh – the only states with a Congress chief minister – and Madhya Pradesh.
Apart from Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur from Siraj, important candidates include Minister Suresh Bhardwaj from Kasumpti, Congress Legislature Party leader Mukesh Agnihotri from Haroli, Vikramaditya Singh from Shimla Rural and Congress campaign committee chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu.
A total of 7,884 polling stations, including three in far-flung areas, have been set up by the Election Commission for voting from 8 am to 5 pm. Its tallest booth is at Tashigang in Kaza in Lahaul-Spiti district at a height of 15,256 feet for 52 voters.
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