As per latest opinion polls, BJP is expected to win at least 60%-70% of the seats in the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh. To the average person, this may seem like another false prophecy or as some would say “fake news”. As the campaigns intensify with the BJP explicitly naming PK Dhumal as their CM candidate, it seems like the people of Himachal are ready to ride the everlasting Modi Wave.
Here are are some reasons why a Modi Tsunami is about to hit Himachal, why BJP is expected to register an earth-shattering win, and why the Congress Party will be annihilated.
Anti Incumbency History
Himachal Pradesh has a unique history when it comes to anti-incumbency. Since becoming the 18th state of India in 1971, the state has almost always had a 2 party system. This has resulted in a unique trend since 1985, no government has ever won a reelection and also since the state’s inception in 1971 no CM has served two consecutive terms except for present CM Virbhadra Singh (that too only once in the 80s). Regardless of whether the BJP is in power or the Congress, anti-incumbency sentiments ride high in this state. Winning a re-election for a government in Himachal Pradesh is a very steep slope like the mountains found all over the state. From this perspective, BJP is almost a sure shot winner, however, this still does not explain how BJP is expected to win a record amount of seats. The reasons for the big win are the next few factors.
Raja Virbhadra Singh is 83 years old and a record five-time Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. While he pleaded with the public to help elect him for the last time during the 2013 election, the people of Himachal were convinced that he would surely seek re-election. With his son Vikramaditya Singh not ready to take the mantle, Virbhadra Singh knows he needs more time as Chief Minister and has thus become the face of HP Congress seeking a record 6th term. Are the people inclined to agree with him again? The answer seems to be no. Presently there is an anti-virbhadra sentiment brewing in the state thanks to corruption charges, the handling of the Kotkhai Gang Rape, and general anti-incumbency sentiments discussed before.
The anti-virbhadra sentiment officially started in the 2014 general elections when Pratibha Singh the wife and Maharani of Raja Virbhadra Singh lost the Mandi Lok Sabha seat by 40 000 votes to the former HP BJP Secretary Ram Swaroop Sharma. This seat was considered a “safe seat” for congress in Himachal given the respect and loyalty the people owe to Virbhadra. However, people of the Mandi LS constituency (second largest constituency in the country) indicated that the Raja was no longer welcome and they had decided to side with people’s very own Ram Swaroop Sharma and Chai Wala Narendra Modi.
It only got worse for the Raja after the CBI filed a case against him and his family for owning assets to the tune of Rs. 6.1 crore disproportionate to his known sources of income. The ongoing case which has not yet been dropped by the Supreme Court has further fueled the Anti-Virbhadra movement.
Then comes the heinous act of violence committed in Virbhadra’s former constituency of Kotkhai. The state came to a halting stop as protests erupted across the state in response to the heinous crime which was severely mishandled by the government. The government’s false direction (posting photos of false suspects on CM’s FB Page), late response (was handed over to CBI after police failed to nab the suspects and even let one suspect commit suicide whilst in their custody.), and failure to make resulting legislation is the final straw for the government as people have surely had enough.
Voting Patterns from 2014 for Modi
As stated earlier Virbhadra’s wife and maharani lost big time to Ram Swaroop in the Mandi constituency which was considered a Congress “safe seat” for the state. During the 2014 election, BJP took all 4 seats despite projections for 2-3 at best. This was the first time that Himachal had decided to vote all out for BJP as Congress had won at least one seat every time in Himachal. The result of Himachal Pradesh for BJP was possible due to many traditionally congress voters deciding to ditch their party for Narendra Modi. This was a set trend in Bihar as well where the people voted Modi for PM but Nitish Kumar for CM.
However, it seems unlikely that Virbhadra will be able to pull off a Nitish Kumar for various reasons. First of all, Virbhadra does not have a clean image, there are no parties he can ally with and biggest of all the people have turned against him.
New BJP movement within Himachal Pradesh
The last reason for why the BJP will win a lot of seats is due to the changes that have taken place within BJP in general. Despite the proclamation by Amit Shah that Prem Kumar Dhumal will be the next CM, the future of BJP in Himachal is going to be different. Earlier strong rumours had indicated that RSS Pracharak Ajay Jamwal would be the next BJP CM. However it is widely known throughout the state that power in BJP within Himachal Pradesh rests in the hands of three state leaders – two-time CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, Kangra MP and former CM Shanta Kumar and Health Minister JP Nadda. Shanta Kumar is past the retirement age which was the reason he was never considered for the post and the only other powerful leader left is JP Nadda. In order to avoid a power tussle, the BJP high command wisely gave the post to PK Dhumal as has shown to be an effective leader and commands a lot of respect within HP BJP (as explained further in detail in a previous article on right log.
Prem Kumar Dhumal is currently 73 years old which means he will have around 1-2 years as CM given the party’s policy of retirement at 75 years. The appointment will serve as a perfect sending off a gift for the established leader who helped bring two BJP government into power. After Dhumal reaches his retirement age, BJP may get a new first-time CM and the state will get only its 6th CM. Who this first tenure CM could be is a mystery.
What BJP is offering to the state is very unique and different than what Congress can offer. By simply analysing the history of the state it is very easy to see that BJP will come into power. However the next question is how big a victory will BJP register. As indicated by opinion polls and other factors the answer is a very big one. It seems that the people of Himachal took to heart the words of the PM Modi when he said “Congress is like termites, wipe them out”. In 5 years time BJP could be the first party to win a reelection in Himachal in a very long time.
In conclusion I would like to say that there is simply no argument. The state of Himachal will turn saffron when the times comes on November 9th. I am placing my bet on 52-55 seats out of 68 Seat Assembly.