With two many BJP leaders, Congress in close fight
Early morning on December 20, 2012, the day the Himachal Pradesh meeting ballot votes have been counted, Prem Kumar Dhumal, then the incumbent BJP chief minister, referred to as his ‘good good friend’ Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar to want him luck (counting was below approach in Gujarat too), maybe hoping for a few of t
Early morning on December 20, 2012, the day the Himachal Pradesh meeting ballot votes have been counted, Prem Kumar Dhumal, then the incumbent BJP chief minister, referred to as his ‘good good friend’ Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar to want him luck (counting was below approach in Gujarat too), maybe hoping for a few of the ‘Modi Magic’ to rub off on him. Nevertheless it wasn’t to be. Three hours later, whereas Modi romped residence to a fourth successive time period in workplace, Dhumal ready to felicitate his arch Congress rival, Virbhadra Singh.
As voters within the hill state put together to elect its 13th Vidhan Sabha on November 9, the BJP is ready its ‘flip’ in workplace. And it isn’t an unreasonable expectation, given the alternating Congress-BJP cycle witnessed right here for the reason that post-Emergency polls in 1977 when Shanta Kumar trounced the YS Parmar-led Congress to change into the primary saffron chief minister. Himachalis have by no means repeated a authorities since, barring the only exception in 1985, when the Congress changed the contaminated T Ram Lal with Virbhadra, forward of the polls.
However the BJP has an issue this time. Not like earlier meeting elections, the place Himachal Pradesh’s four.9 million voters have been fairly sure of who their chief ministerial selections have been, the get together is headed into the approaching polls and not using a CM face. This, whereas the Congress, normally a laggard, went forward and named Virbhadra its CM candidate nicely earlier than the announcement of the election schedule on October 12.
BJP insiders say the brand new, centrally (Delhi) pushed election marketing campaign is being calibrated to minimise factionalism within the state unit which, in the mean time, continues to be divided between Dhumal and Union well being minister Jagat Prakash Nadda-the two massive contenders for the highest job. By not projecting a CM face, BJP leaders say get together chief Amit Shah can also be hoping to make sure the wholehearted participation of ex-CM and former Union cupboard minister Shanta Kumar. Given the sway he instructions in Kangra (which has 15 of the 68 meeting seats), Kumar’s presence within the marketing campaign might be vital in making certain a win for the BJP, they are saying.So, for Dhumal, it isn’t fairly going to be the sleek experience from Hamirpur (his residence district) to Shimla that he achieved twice earlier (in 1998 and 2007). And contemplating that he himself was the shock wildcard alternative that ousted Kumar in 1998, the previous CM may have his arms full.
It is because a lot of the state BJP has been rallying round Nadda, within the perception that he will probably be anointed the subsequent chief minister. Having began out as a scholar chief, Nadda made his debut within the state meeting from Bilaspur in 1993. A minister in Dhumal’s cupboard each occasions, Nadda is claimed to have developed deep variations with the latter. Which is why he selected to maneuver to Delhi, the place Modi inducted him into the Union cupboard within the first 2014 reshuffle. Whereas he’s cautious about airing his views in public, Nadda hasn’t been shy about his aspirations of returning to Shimla as CM both. A few of the hypothesis that this might be Nadda’s flip can also be fuelled by the reward the PM and get together president have showered on him. Additionally, Nadda has been a distinguished presence at each one of many many visits Modi, Shah and Rajnath Singh have made to Himachal Pradesh.
Apart from Dhumal and Nadda, many within the state unit level to get together president Shah’s penchant for ‘pulling a rabbit out of the hat’ in terms of selecting CMs-Manohar Lal Khattar in Haryana; Trivendra Rawat in Uttarakhand; and Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh. Might Himachal Pradesh additionally witness the emergence of a darkish horse CM if the BJP wins?
There’s additionally a variety of speak about Ajay Jamwal, presently the get together’s organising secretary for the northeastern states. Initially from Jogindernagar, Jamwal has been a full-time RSS pracharak and suits the invoice for the BJP in additional methods than one-he’s a bachelor with a squeaky clear status.
With Shah refusing to place out a reputation, folks within the state are additionally agog over strategies of Bollywood actor Anupam Kher presumably being picked for the CM’s job. “He’s well-liked and basically a ‘Shimla boy’,” says a BJP chief, acknowledging that the hearsay began after Kher reportedly bought a home close to Jutogh within the Shimla Rural meeting constituency. Though it was extensively anticipated that the actor can be hosted by the BJP to problem Virbhadra and his son Vikramaditya Singh within the constituency, Kher hasn’t been given the ticket and is unlikely to be a contestant within the polls.
With no chief ministerial face, the BJP is clearly banking as soon as once more on “Modiji ka karishma (Modi’s magic),” as state unit president Satpal Singh Satti places it. The get together can also be focusing on CM Virbhadra, who’s going through a CBI court docket trial for corruption, pertaining from his tenure as Union metal minister throughout UPA-II. “The BJP’s victory will probably be historic and can finish the rule of mafias within the state,” Dhumal confidently said the day the Election Fee of India introduced the polls.
At Bilaspur, throughout his October three go to to the state, PM Modi had set the tone for the BJP marketing campaign by referring to the incumbent Congress authorities as a “zamanati sarkar (authorities on bail)”. It has since change into the catch phrase in any respect BJP ballot conferences.
It could be the BJP’s ‘flip’ to rule Himachal Pradesh, however realizing Virbhadra, it wont be the cakewalk the saffron get together is hoping for it to be. It’s true that the BJP comfortably gained the meeting byelection in Bhoranj in April this yr, however that was over six months in the past. Many analysts say the actual influence of demonetisation and the misery amid merchants and petty shopkeepers owing to the Items & Providers Tax (GST) regime, will probably be seen solely now. The get together, analysts say, may additionally face issues in making the corruption taints in opposition to Virbhadra stick, with the Congress gearing to boost questions concerning the windfall good points reportedly made by Jay Amit Shah.
Additionally, despite the fact that the Congress goes to the polls with the burden of 5 years of anti-incumbency, there isn’t any denying the truth that these years have presumably additionally been Virbhadra’s most efficient years as chief minister (that is his sixth time period). Apart from the 70,000 new jobs within the authorities sector that Rahul Gandhi cited in Mandi when he named Virbhadra the Congress’s CM candidate, the incumbent regime made important advances in areas like infrastructure, training and well being.
“From zero, Himachal Pradesh now has 126 schools,” says the chief minister. In actual fact, in simply two months earlier than the polls have been introduced, Virbhadra inaugurated or laid foundations for 10 new schools, two hydroelectric initiatives, 100 rural roads and a number of other new bridges-projects price over Rs three,000 crore.
It’s far too untimely for anybody, notably the BJP high brass, to name this election a carried out deal. As one observer identified, what the latest polls, just like the keenly contested municipal elections in Shimla, have proven is that there isn’t any wave both approach. That mentioned, a minimum of one BJP supporter in Shimla insists that “folks need change and they’ll have it!” Wishful considering? Or, maybe not?