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Assembly polls: Congress faces uphill task to beat the ‘trend’ in HP

Archana Phull | Shimla |

The ruling Congress faces uphill task to beat the lurking three-decade trend of ‘change’ in power after five years in Himachal Pradesh as the hill state goes to the Assembly polls on 9 November.

The Congress party had wrested power from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) winning 36 out of 68 seats in the 2012 Assembly polls, BJP on 26.

There were five independents and one from the Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP), which later merged with BJP. In 2007, BJP had snatched power from Congress in HP, winning 41 seats, reducing Congress to 23.

In HP, Congress and the BJP are the two main political parties, which have been alternating power since 80s. The state has three tribal constituencies of Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti and Bharmour.

The elections to tough tribal constituencies used to be held after the results of 65 Assembly segments were announced and government formed, for ‘weather constraints’, which led the tribal folks go with the ruling party.

However, 2007 onwards, the polls in entire state were held in together (in two phases in 2007) with results declared at one time, keeping with the spirit of democracy.

The state has over 49 lakh voters, with little less than half of them women.

“We are ready for polls. We had started preparing for the elections six months back. I have toured the state extensively. We are confident of repeating the government with a comfortable majority,” chief minister, Virbhadra Singh said. He said the Congress party will go to polls with development as its main poll plank.

Six-time CM, Singh was recently projected as the Chief Ministerial face of Congress party in polls again keeping with his mass appeal. This has not only come as shot in the arm for Singh, but the party cadres as well, who were earlier confused with Pradesh Congress Committee Chief, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu lobbying for ‘collective leadership’ in polls.

On the other hand, the BJP is confident of snatching power in HP under the shadow of NDA government led by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and corruption issue against CM. The CM is facing probe into the disproportionate assets case and money laundering case.

The BJP, which projected CM, Prem Kumar Dhumal as its leader in Assembly polls four times since 1998, has so far not opened up on its CM’s face, leading to confusion in the party cadres and the people.

“The BJP will wrest power from Congress in HP with a thumping majority and will form the next government. The CM is negating the Modi wave as he did it in Lok Sabha elections. The Congress faced a rout in the Lok Sabha polls, and will meet the same fate in Assembly elections now,” said former BJP CM and leader of Opposition, Prem Kumar Dhumal.