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The Pros and Cong: 5 Factors That Had a ‘Hand’ in the Party’s Big Himachal Comeback

By: Srishti Choudhary

Edited By: Manjiri Joshi


Last Updated: December 08, 2022, 14:46 IST

New Delhi, India

Priyanka Gandhi addressed 10 rallies across the state. (Twitter File)

Priyanka Gandhi addressed 10 rallies across the state. (Twitter File)

Favoured by the strong anti-incumbency trend, the Congress, under Priyanka Gandhi, tapped into the resentful apple growers as well as government employees. The palpable angst against rising unemployment, inflation also bolstered its prospects

Staying committed to its four-decade-old trend, Himachal Pradesh dethroned the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the Assembly results declared on Thursday. The electoral battle that went down to the wire eventually paved the way for Congress’s strong comeback in the hill state.

The party clinched 39 out of the total 68 seats.


A look at five factors that steered the party to its successful comeback:



In the past 37 years, Himachal Pradesh has never bucked its tradition of changing the government every five years. While chief minister Jai Ram Thakur-led government vowed to end the decades’ old trend with party’s call for “raaj nahi, riwaaz badlega", the voters decided otherwise. The Congress, on the other hand, was buoyed by this anti-incumbency and exuded confidence of returning to power all through its campaign, despite having no clear consensus on its CM face.

ALSO READ | ‘Cleverly’ Hills To Pick its Star Soon: Mahila with BJP, Karamchari with Cong? Himachal Ground Report

The ticket distribution also went awry for the ruling BJP, giving rise to as many as 21 rebel leaders across all districts. While it tried hard to placate them, several of them still contested as independent candidates and divided the party’s votes in the state.


With more than 2.5 lakh government employees, the issue of revival of the old pension scheme (OPS) reverberated loud and clear all through the election season. While both the parties tried to win the employees’ support with a promise to implement the old regime, their vote has gone in favour of the Congress whom they entrusted with the task of delivering on their poll promise.

ALSO READ | Himachal Pradesh: Difference Between Old & New Pension Scheme in 4 Points & Why It’s A Poll Plank

The party had also been citing examples of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan where the Congress-led government had started the process to implement the old scheme.


Leading the campaign without its tallest state leader Virbhadra Singh, who passed away last year, the Congress carefully chose to connect with people on local issues than the national ones. It tapped into the public resentment against inflation and a worsened unemployment rate. Concerns were rife over lack of government jobs in the first election held post-pandemic.

ALSO READ | Split Over Agniveer, Will Himachal’s Army Veterans be Chink in BJP’s Poll Armour, Silver Lining for Congress?

The hill state also sends a high number of soldiers to the defence forces and a significant fraction did not favour the Centre’s Agniveer scheme, which seems to have benefitted the Congress. In her mega rally in Kangra, Priyanka Gandhi promised to end the recruitment scheme if the Congress returns to power in 2024. The party also contested the election with a promise to provide one lakh jobs to the youth in the first year and start-up funds to support self-employment.


With their presence in almost half of the total 67 constituencies, apple growers hold a significant sway over the poll results in Himachal Pradesh. However, this time, they were among the most disgruntled lot due to dwindling profit margins, rising input costs and angst against the private companies who have been controlling the price regime of the state’s most prized fruit. To add to the woes, the latest hike in GST rates on packaging hit them hard, and perhaps dealt a severe blow to the BJP’s prospects.

ALSO READ | ​Discontent Among Himachal Pradesh Orchardists Grows, Will they Upset BJP’s Apple Cart in Elections?

The Congress, on the other hand, capitalised on the simmering concerns and promised to fulfill their demands including Minimum Support Price (MSP) for apple. The party also promised to form a committee with representatives of farm unions who will decide the price of the fruit.


A resounding victory in Himachal Pradesh also brought the first electoral success for Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi, who spearheaded the party’s campaign in the state. She addressed nearly 10 rallies across the state, after launching the party’s campaign in October with a promise to restore OPS. Her connect with women voters also bolstered the party campaign.

ALSO READ | As Priyanka Leads the Charge, Cong Looks to Finally Fire Up Its Himachal Campaign in Rahul’s Absence

With a 48% vote share, the women of the hill state have a clear voice in the state elections. Not only did they turn up in record numbers to cast their vote, but also outnumbered men by as much as 4.5%. While the state BJP unit continued to bank on Centre’s schemes such as Ujjwala, it was overridden by concerns over rising prices of essential commodities. Women across constituencies were vocal about how inflation and lack of jobs affected their families, which also turned them away from the ruling government. The Congress had also announced a monthly incentive of Rs 1,500 for all women aged 18-60.

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first published:December 08, 2022, 14:20 IST
last updated:December 08, 2022, 14:46 IST