Himachal: BJP rebels changed ‘riwaaj’ in favour of Congress

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH:  The BJP hadn’t imagined it that the Gujarat storm would vanish so vainly in the small Himlayan state of Himachal Pradesh. The ‘double-engine’ oxymoron and the ‘riwaaj badal rha hai (the tradition is changing, a persuasive self-declaration against two parties taking turns to rule)’ suffered such a heavy blow that by the time a chilling winter evening set in over Shimla, a long-faced Jai Ram Thakur, the CM, called it a day, handing his papers to the Governor.

It happened in a state that prides itself on two BJP heavyweights – party chief JP Nadda and Union minister Anurag Thakur. For the party, the opposition Congress had been browbeaten and was rudderless after the death of former CM Virbhadra Singh. Thursday gave the saffron party a rude jolt: the Congress led by Pratibha Singh not only proved the revolving-door power-sharing tradition between the two parties but also gave enough evidence that the party is alive and kicking.

The score stood for Congress 40 and BJP 25 in the 68-member Assembly. The saffron camp could hardly draw any solace from the fact that among the winners, there were three party rebels. Observers attribute Congress’ victory to its ability to successfully raise local issues. The BJP leaned heavily on Modi, who put everything in him to bring rebels around, but it was too late. 

ALSO READ| Assembly election results: How the Congress won Himachal

“The mismanagement within the BJP started to show with miscalculated nominations: those denied the ticket fielded themselves at 21 places, denting the party prospects,” says political analyst Harish Thakur.As the nerve-center of Himachal politics, Kangra, the BJP that had won a dozen seats in 2017 could win only four seats. The Congress’ populist campaign to revive the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) went against the ruling BJP as the state has a large chunk of government employees. Ditto was the case with Centre’s launch of an unpopular Agniveer plan for the youth.

Observers also point to BJP-versus-BJP tussle involving rival camps of Nadda and the one led by former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, Anurag Thakur’s father. Outgoing CM Jai Ram Thakur is considered close to Nadda. In the ticket distribution, the Dhumal camp was not reportedly accommodated adequately, antagonising a section of the party.

Analysts say the other mistake the saffron party made was keeping Dhumal out of the elections. The party could not get a convincing lead in the three districts of Hamirpur, Una and Bilaspur. In Hamirpur, the home district of Dhumal and Anurag Thakur, four seats went to Congress and another was bagged by an Independent. In Una again, the Congress bagged four seats while BJP got only one. In Bilaspur, the home district of BJP chief JP Nadda, the BJP bagged three seats while one went to Congress.

BJP leaned heavily on Modi, Cong raised local issuesObservers attribute Congress’ victory to its ability to successfully raise local issues. The BJP leaned heavily on Modi, who put everything in him to bring rebels around, but it was too late. 

CHANDIGARH:  The BJP hadn’t imagined it that the Gujarat storm would vanish so vainly in the small Himlayan state of Himachal Pradesh. The ‘double-engine’ oxymoron and the ‘riwaaj badal rha hai (the tradition is changing, a persuasive self-declaration against two parties taking turns to rule)’ suffered such a heavy blow that by the time a chilling winter evening set in over Shimla, a long-faced Jai Ram Thakur, the CM, called it a day, handing his papers to the Governor.

It happened in a state that prides itself on two BJP heavyweights – party chief JP Nadda and Union minister Anurag Thakur. For the party, the opposition Congress had been browbeaten and was rudderless after the death of former CM Virbhadra Singh. Thursday gave the saffron party a rude jolt: the Congress led by Pratibha Singh not only proved the revolving-door power-sharing tradition between the two parties but also gave enough evidence that the party is alive and kicking.

The score stood for Congress 40 and BJP 25 in the 68-member Assembly. The saffron camp could hardly draw any solace from the fact that among the winners, there were three party rebels. Observers attribute Congress’ victory to its ability to successfully raise local issues. The BJP leaned heavily on Modi, who put everything in him to bring rebels around, but it was too late. 

ALSO READ| Assembly election results: How the Congress won Himachal

“The mismanagement within the BJP started to show with miscalculated nominations: those denied the ticket fielded themselves at 21 places, denting the party prospects,” says political analyst Harish Thakur.
As the nerve-center of Himachal politics, Kangra, the BJP that had won a dozen seats in 2017 could win only four seats. The Congress’ populist campaign to revive the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) went against the ruling BJP as the state has a large chunk of government employees. Ditto was the case with Centre’s launch of an unpopular Agniveer plan for the youth.

Observers also point to BJP-versus-BJP tussle involving rival camps of Nadda and the one led by former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, Anurag Thakur’s father. Outgoing CM Jai Ram Thakur is considered close to Nadda. In the ticket distribution, the Dhumal camp was not reportedly accommodated adequately, antagonising a section of the party.

Analysts say the other mistake the saffron party made was keeping Dhumal out of the elections. The party could not get a convincing lead in the three districts of Hamirpur, Una and Bilaspur. In Hamirpur, the home district of Dhumal and Anurag Thakur, four seats went to Congress and another was bagged by an Independent. In Una again, the Congress bagged four seats while BJP got only one. In Bilaspur, the home district of BJP chief JP Nadda, the BJP bagged three seats while one went to Congress.

BJP leaned heavily on Modi, Cong raised local issues
Observers attribute Congress’ victory to its ability to successfully raise local issues. The BJP leaned heavily on Modi, who put everything in him to bring rebels around, but it was too late.