The Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls are seemingly a close contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. While the saffron unit has been leading a high-decibel campaign, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress’s campaign trail has been low-profile marred by factionalism.
Sources said the BJP’s denial of ticket to 11 of its sitting legislators in the list announced on Wednesday points towards the party’s attempts to end the anti-incumbency factor, which, many believe, plays a huge role in Himachal voting out the incumbent government.
The BJP has laid the foundation of its campaign to change the norm of the state, just like it did successfully in the Uttarakhand elections. With the Congress giving a tough fight on many seats, leaders believe that changing candidates to ward off anti-incumbency had to be done.
During the upcoming contest, the Congress is missing the leadership of stalwarts like Virbhadra Singh. However, the state leadership feels it can take on the BJP successfully and will receive the support of common people who are suffering from alleged inflation and corruption under the present government.
भारतीय जनता पार्टी केंद्रीय कार्यालय ने आगामी विधानसभा चुनाव के लिए हिमाचल प्रदेश की 62 विधानसभा क्षेत्रों में घोषित किए प्रत्याशी।सभी उम्मीदवारों को अग्रिम शुभकामनाएं।#हिमाचल_में_फिर_भाजपा pic.twitter.com/PPelv0cbuH
— BJP Himachal Pradesh (@BJP4Himachal) October 19, 2022
CONTESTS TO WATCH OUT FOR
While BJP has issued the list for 62 assemblies out of 68, the Congress has come out with a list for 46 seats. However, the contests to watch out will be where the top leaders of both the parties are fighting. Senior leaders from both the parties maintain the fight on these seats will be aggressive and brutal.
सर्वोच्च हिमाचल के सर्वत्र विकास के लिए पार्टी द्वारा विधानसभा चुनाव 2022 के लिए घोषित प्रत्याशियों को हिमाचल कांग्रेस की ओर से हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं। फिर कांग्रेस का होगा उदय,लोकतंत्र में जनता की होगी विजय।#HimachalKaSankalp #CongressHiVikalp pic.twitter.com/P4nOPTIUwj
— Himachal Congress (@INCHimachal) October 18, 2022
There are seats like Seraj, which is sitting CM Jairam Thakur’s seat, where little contest is expected from Congress’s Chetram Thakur.
All eyes will be on Bilaspur seat as well, which is identified with J P Nadda, the BJP’s national president. The BJP has fielded Trilok Jamwal, sitting MLA and general secretary in the state, whereas the Congress is yet to declare its candidate.
Chamba, too, will see an interesting contest as Indira Kapoor, BJP candidate, is said to have been backed by former Congress leader Harsh Mahajan, who enjoys clout in the area. The Congress has fielded Neeraj Nayyar.
In Dalhousie, Congress leader Asha Kumari seems to enjoy a good rapport. The BJP has fielded D S Thakur from the seat and many believe the Congress has an edge over the BJP on this seat.
The BJP has fielded Rakesh Pathania, a minister in the Jairam Thakur cabinet, from Fatehpur. He would be contesting against Bhawani Singh Pathania. Pathania was a sitting MLA from Nurpur.
From Kangra, the BJP has fielded former working Congress chief Pawan Kajal.
Dharamshala, too, will witness an interesting contest as the BJP has fielded Rakesh Chaudhary, a Congress rebel who has joined the BJP.
Congress Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu is contesting from Nadaun seat and will be contesting against Vijay Agnihotri. Caste factor is crucial here as it is considered a contest between Rajputs and Brahmins.
This time, the BJP has given ticket to Rajat Thakur, son of Mahendra Singh, a minister in Thakur’s government, from Dharampur.
P K Dhuma’s Sujanpur is being contested by retired Captain Ranjeet Singh, who is considered to have got ticket after Dhumal’s blessings. The Congress is yet to name a candidate.
Himachal Pradesh | Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra offers prayers at Maa Shoolini Temple in Solan.She will address the 'Parivartan Pratigya Rally' today and launch the party's election campaign in Himachal Pradesh. pic.twitter.com/DUX3kj5i19
— ANI (@ANI) October 14, 2022
Suresh Bhardwaj, law minister in Thakur’s government, too, has got ticket but his seat has been changed to Kasumpati, where the Congress has given ticket to Anuirudh Singh. Bhardwaj wanted to contest form Shimla, his traditional seat.
Four other seats that will be keenly watched by both the Congress and BJP will be Sillai, Renuka and Pachhad and Paonta Sahib. These are the seats where Hatti community is in significant numbers and Union minister Amit Shah had addressed the community accepting thanks to include them in tribal category.