Shimla: The Congress wrested power from the BJP, winning 40 out of the 68 seats as the state chose to continue with the “Riwaz”, or tradition, of changing the government after every five years. The BJP won 25 seats and independents got three seats. The AAP drew a blank.
While Chief Minister Jairam Thakur won by a record 36,000-plus votes, the margin of victory was less than 1,000 in eight seats and the Congress won the Bhorang SC) seat by the lowest margin of 60 votes.
Veteran Congress leader and eight-time MLA Kaul Singh Thakur, former Congress minister and six-time MLA Asha Kumari, and former Congress minister Ram Lal Thakur, all of them eyeing the CM post, were defeated. Champa Thakur, daughter of Kaul Singh who contested from Mandi, too lost the election.
The lone CPI(M) candidate, Rakesh Singha, suffered defeat at the hands of former HPCC president Kuldeep Singh Rathore from Theog constituency. The Congress won seven out of eight seats in the Shimla district, four out of five seats in Solan district, three out of five seats in Sirmaur, four out of five seats each in Una and Hamirpur and ten out of 15 seats in the Kangra district.
Good Show By CM But Not Enough To Bring BJP Back To Power
The BJP made a clean sweep in Mandi, the home district of CM Thakur, winning all ten seats. The Congress and the BJP shared two seats each in Bilaspur, Kullu and Chamba districts while two tribal seats were won by the Congress and one by the BJP.
The BJP’s vote share was reduced from 48.79 percent in 2017 polls to 43 percent, resulting in a loss of 25 seats, while the Congress vote share increased from 41.68 percent to 49.90 percent and it had a net gain of 20 seats. The AAP, which contested 67 seats, polled 1.10 per cent and failed to open its account, while independents, including 27 BJP and Congress rebels, secured 10.39 per cent votes and won three seats.
CM Thakur submitted his resignation to Governor Rajendra Arlekar soon after the results were declared. The governor accepted the resignation and asked him to continue until the next government is formed. Accepting defeat, the CM said the BJP would play the role of a responsible opposition.
The defeat of BJP comes as a significant setback to the party as it was far ahead of the Congress in its high-pitch campaign and all its top leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda, chief ministers of BJP ruled states and Union ministers had campaigned in the state for almost two months and made tall claims to repeat the government and change the Riwaz.
The author is a veteran journalist who has covered Himachal Pradesh for over five decades.
[Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs, and views expressed by the various authors and forum participants on this website are personal.]