It promises to be the most exciting electoral battle in the hills in recent times. With multiple rallies by PM Narendra Modi, the BJP has hit the ground running. Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP started off strong but has of late diverted much of its focus to Gujarat. The Congress campaign rests on the shoulders of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra but is yet to pick up pace. News18 tours the state to gauge public sentiment and political strategies ahead of Himachal Pradesh elections 2022.
With the announcement of elections in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, state leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are set to arrive in the national capital on Sunday night.
Sources stated it is the first state core committee meeting scheduled out of the state. The meeting on Monday will be followed by the central election committee’s meet to approve the names of the candidates for the upcoming polls.
However, the firsts don’t end here.
On Sunday, the party asked its post-holders of every rank to cast their votes in favour of the candidates they deem fit to contest.
“This is the first time that such a ballot has taken place. A few people have even given five names. We are a set-up that would want everyone to believe that their suggestion for the candidate was sought and it mattered," stated a senior party leader.
The party office in Shimla’s Chakkar was abuzz with the state post-holders casting their votes, jotting down three names in order of preference from their respective seats.
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The party has already got down to the most challenging task – to shortlist one candidate each from 68 assembly constituencies and to contain the damage due to infighting or refusal of ticket to some.
A list of the names that have come will be matched with the party’s surveys to be considered for final candidate selection.
Present in the party headquarters were all top office-bearers with state president Suresh Kashyap supervising the tasks given to various committees, including election campaign, manifesto and social media.
Relatively young workers and volunteers could be seen comparing notes and statistics and coordinating with fellow state Uttarakhand post-holders to see what they did and to customize and emulate the strategy for a comeback.
Kashyap made an appeal to the post-holders to give their recommendations for the candidates.
“The elections have been declared and soon we will go into elections. Our candidates will soon be declared. The BJP is a democratic party based on organization — all party post-holders be it that of mandal, state unit, morchas or district office-bearers and our elected representatives from local bodies and corporations. We have organized a meeting of four parliamentary constituencies — Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi and Shimla — and sought advice of our workers. These post-holders will exercise their secret ballot and become part of the process,” said Kashyap.
The boxes ‘Mera Mat, Mera Ummidwar’ (My Vote, My Candidate) written on it has been put in the party office for everyone to pitch for their candidate.
The election management committee, too, had a meeting with advocates. The party will have one in each district to file objections or make appeal to the election commission and extend legal aid to the candidates and workers.
Senior leaders in the party believe that with Himachal having a track record of changing government every five years, this election is not a cakewalk. The Congress, the main opposition is giving a tough fight. “While generally we change 25% of sitting MLAs to beat anti-incumbency, it is not yet clear how many can be changed this time. The meeting in Delhi will finalise the criteria based on our surveys. We need to change a few as well as the anti-incumbency that was seen earlier is missing this time,” said a senior party leader.
Another senior leader in the party unit, while accepting the greeting from the probable aspirants for the tickets, said, “The Congress has not gone below 38% at its weakest and not above 41% when it has won the elections. It commands that much vote share. We are fighting to make a dent in that vote share to win the elections. The BJP has had 48% vote share in previous polls as well,” added a senior leader.
Cautious after Prem Kumar Dhumal lost the last elections despite the party’s win, CM Thakur went to his constituency and had a meeting with the ‘rebel workers’ to pacify them, said sources.