Struggling to make inroads into the state politics for long, the CPI-M has missed a golden chance to prove its worth on the best bet, the Shimla Municipal Corporation.
Following five years of rule by CPI-M’s Mayor, Sanjay Chauhan and Deputy Mayor, Tikender Singh Panwar, who were directly elected to the coveted posts in 2012 polls to Shimla Municipal Corporation creating a history, the CPI-M has secured victory in just one ward in Shimla in 2017.
Last time, the CPI-M had three councillors elected in SMC, apart from Mayor and Deputy Mayor, out of which one had crossed over to Congress later.
The Congress had got 10, BJP 12 in the house of 25, then.
The previous BJP government had made provision for direct election to the two top posts in civic bodies by amending the Act, which was later reversed to old system of indirect election by present government.
In the House of 34, this time, the BJP has emerged as single largest party with 17 seats, Congress 12, independents 4 and CPI-M one.
CPI-M does not have much base in Himachal Pradesh although its cadres have been working in some interior pockets of the hill state for long. CPI-M has no presence in the state assembly, with 68 seats.
In the past, only once, senior CPI-M leader, Rakesh Singha, had made it to the state assembly from Shimla segment, but he was later disqualified for conviction in a case.
The reasons of the CPI-M’s bad show in the 2017 SMC polls are obvious and are going to impact the party’s aspirations to come up as an alternate to BJP and Congress.
The general feeling is that the Shimla voters had elected CPI-M leaders at top posts in 2012 election against the country’s trend, impressed by their capacity to fight on peoples’ issues. Locals saw an alternative in them for the first time at least in a small election, which had a big impression nation-wide.
But despite lot of promise, the CPI-M could not come up to the expectations of people, partly for ‘political conflict’ in house of 25, where CPI-M had Mayor, Deputy Mayor and two party councillors to back, and partly due to inexperience and ineffectiveness of Mayor and Deputy Mayor to take others along in the works of development.
The locals feel that CPI-M leaders ruling the MC indulged more in blame game than taking the onus for all what was MC’s responsibility-Whether it was the major issue of jaundice outbreak in Shimla due to sewage mixing in water supply scheme in 2015-16 that claimed more than two dozen lives, underutilisation of central funds for Shimla’s development or routine functioning..
Secretary, State Committee of CPI-M, Onkar Shad said although the performance of the previouselection could not be matched as the last election saw a direct vote for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, but the results are not encouraging this time. “The CPI-M will introspect and work in the direction of improving its relations with the people and build movements on issues pertaining to them,” Shad said.