It is very evident that BJP has a very strong hold in Himachal Pradesh’s politics. Keeping in mind the demography of the state and a weak opposition it is certain that the BJP will sweep Himachal yet again in the upcoming state Assembly Elections of 2022. However, considering that CM Thakur is not a leader with a strong mass following and has maintained a low profile in state politics, there is a strong need for the BJP to select a new candidate for the CM post.
Himachal Pradesh has not changed much under Thakur’s tenure as the Chief Minister. Reflective of his own personality, even his governance has been very uneventful. Although he got things done in unpresuming ways, as a CM he has maintained a very low profile in state politics. Recently, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh while targeting the opponents and many leaders of his own party in his home assembly constituency Siraj said, ‘If I speak less, it does not mean that I am less known.’ One thing is becoming clear from these words of Thakur, his calm and non-aggressive image is causing damage to the party and at the same time, voices have started rising against Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur from within the party unit as well. Critics have been targeting him for his weak grip on the bureaucracy and effective control over his ministers. They have also accused him of wasting a lot of crucial time in implementing projects, especially the pandemic.
If we look at the politics of the state, no party has ever been able to form the government for two consecutive terms in Himachal Pradesh. In such a situation, the upcoming election will be very important for Jai Ram Thakur’s political career. No major activity has been seen in the past tenure of Jai Ram Thakur. The calm nature of the Chief Minister has also been seen in his development works, that is, the development work of the state also remained in cold storage and the discussion of the work that has been done has not been heard anywhere. For example, on the BJP side, former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal is a well-known and news politician in the state. During his tenure, he had connected every corner of the state with roads. Due to which his fans gave him the nickname, “The Chief Minister who builds the road”.
During AAP state party president Advocate Anoop Kesari visit to Fatehpur he said that Thakur’s four-year tenure was really disappointing, he said that this government is running only on the crutches of debt. The people are suffering under the burden of inflation, unemployment and corruption. Petrol, diesel and cooking gas prices are increasing continuously, due to which inflation has increased. These are some underlying reasons which reflect the need for a new face in BJP for Himachal politics.
Earlier, the name of Congress Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh was also included in the list of eminent and popular leaders of the state. He passed away recently, leaving the Himachal Pradesh Congress extremely weak. In such a situation, BJP can definitely win, but before that Jai Ram Thakur will have to prove himself. The last chance he has to prove this is the state by-elections. By-elections are going to be held on 4 seats in the state, out of which three are for the assembly post and one for the Lok Sabha seat.
The AAP party is also trying its best to establish a foothold in Himachal Pradesh, but its Anti-India image will prove to be a big hurdle for them. The people of the hills are religious and patriotic people but AAP’s image on the contrary is that of an Anti-national party because of their support towards pro-Khalistanis, pro-CAA, opposing Ram Mandir, Muslim Appeasement policies and the list goes on.
Thakur never really had a real threat to his leadership unlike the BJP-ruled state of Uttarakhand, where chief ministers were changed thrice this year. Although he was an unenergetic CM, his tenure has been free from controversies and corruption charges. His stability also stems from the fact that he always made himself accessible and accountable to the public. However, the people want more than this from a leader holding the top post.
After the death of Virbhadra Singh, the political journey of the Congress in the state is on the verge of ending, which looks like an opportunity for the Aam Aadmi Party. Arguably, Arvind Kejriwal would like to capitalize on this opportunity and will try to make the assembly elections not BJP vs Congress, but BJP vs Aam Aadmi Party. There is no doubt that at present BJP is the largest party in the state, but the entry of the Aam Aadmi Party can harm BJP. To deal with this type of problem, the party high command may have to change the political direction of the state and like Uttarakhand may have to appoint an outspoken and aggressive leader in the state.