It’s twists and turns all the way in Himachal Pradesh. The state, set to witness crucial assembly elections in just three days, saw several Congress leaders joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of Chief Minister Jairam Thakur late Monday.
"रिवाज बदल रहा है"आज शिमला के कांग्रेस पार्टी के पूर्व पदाधिकारियों सहित कई साथियों ने कांग्रेस पार्टी छोड़ भाजपा का दामन थामा।
भाजपा परिवार में आप सभी का हार्दिक स्वागत-अभिनंदन।
आइये, भाजपा की ऐतिहासिक जीत के लिए एकजुटता के साथ कार्य करें।#रिवाजबदलेगा#हिमाचल_में_फिर_भाजपा pic.twitter.com/LMDkMMhmO6
— Jairam Thakur (@jairamthakurbjp) November 7, 2022
Regarded to be a swing state, all eyes are on who could grab the coveted power seat in Himachal. The BJP is making solid efforts to retain HP, known for its anti-incumbency, while new players like the AAP try to make inroads. But who could win? News18 explains:
Swing State That Goes Its Own Way
Despite complicated political equations we will explore later in these questions, one of the foremost trends of Himachal being talked about is its ‘anti-incumbency’ Riwaaz.
Since 1985, the ‘Devbhoomi’ has not repeated any government.
Himachal Pradesh is a swing state that has alternated between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress for the last three decades. Both parties have consistently received around 40% of the stable vote share (except in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when the Congress vote share was reduced to 27 per cent). The outcomes have always been neck and neck.
While the massive voteshare gap between the Congress and BJP suggest a favourable ‘saffron outcome’, past electoral trends at the BJP’s performance in the bypolls held in the state in 2021 show that Himachal may be an unpredictable outcome to prophesize. By-elections were held in three assembly seats in 2021: Arki, Fatehpur, and Jubbal-Kotkhai, as well as the Mandi Lok Sabha constituency. Congress took all four seats. The BJP lost 42, 24 and 54% of the vote in Fatehpur, Arki, and Jubbal-Kotkhai by-elections in 2021, compared to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. At the same time, Congress gained 21, 26, and 3% of the vote in these assemblies, a report by India Today analysed.
Congress vs BJP
Twenty-six leaders of the Congress party, including Dharampal Thakur Khand, former General Secretary of the Pradesh Congress Committee joined the ruling BJP on Monday. Coming as a big jolt to the party, the leaders jumped the boat in the presence of Jairam Thakur and BJP state elections in charge Sudhan Singh.
It remains to be seen whether this will have the positive impact BJP hopes for its prospects, as divisions in the saffron state leadership have to also be accounted for - in a small assembly of 69 seats, as many as 20 rebels of the BJP are in the fray.
Congress strengths: The Congress is campaigning on the promise of restoring the “Old Pension Scheme" (OPS) and providing Rs 1,500 per month in aid to women as soon as it takes power.
BJP strengths: The BJP is counting on female voters’ support and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma to cut its losses in the state, where anti-incumbency has claimed every government so far. Given his continued popularity in the state, the Prime Minister in a Himachali topi is prominently displayed on every BJP billboard in the state.
What Opinion Polls Say
According to the results of the ABP C-Voter opinion poll released on October 3, the BJP will receive between 37 and 45 seats out of a total of 68 seats in Himachal Pradesh, while the Congress may receive between 21 and 29 seats.
And as per the India TV-Matrize Opinion polls, the BJP is expected to receive 46% of the vote in the Himachal assembly elections, while the Congress is expected to receive 42%. According to the poll, the AAP will receive only 2% of the vote in the state. Other parties and independents are expected to receive 10% of the votes cast. It stated that the BJP will be re-elected with 41 assembly seats. The BJP previously won 44 seats. The Congress is expected to gain 25 seats, adding four to its total from 2017. According to the survey, the AAP will be unable to open an account in the state.
News18’s Ground Report
As News18 drove to Shimla, it came across a group of retired government officials playing cards in Kandaghat, near the local Congress and BJP offices. They pointed out to a ‘Congress mauhaul’ and pointed out how government employees and retired pensioners in Himachal change the government every time.
“This time, they’re voting for the Congress," Ashok Sehgal, a retired government employee told News18. Sehgal claimed he needs Rs 16 lakh from the state government, but the money is stuck due to a “error," and he has lost faith in Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
Despite being troubled by inflation, News18 found out that women in Himachal Pradesh do not appear to be abandoning the BJP. According to a couple of women buying vegetables in Solan, the BJP has done a lot for women. “We don’t believe this promise to deposit funds into our bank account" (Rs 1,500 promise for women by the Congress). Parties continue to make false promises. Our children desire government jobs based on their qualifications. Pensions are no longer available. “The BJP should fix this," the women argue.
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