Himachal Pradesh Elections: Before Results, Hard Lobbying In Congress For CM Post As BJP Treads Cautiously
Amid growing fears in BJP about poll outcomes in the hill state, the party’s state chief has said it will form government while Congress will get only disappointed.
Shimla: With just a few days left for counting of the votes in Himachal Pradesh which went to poll on November 12, the ruling BJP is set to undertake a fresh review of the ground-level internal feed-back as to how the party has fared in the poll.
An outreach initiative is the result of growing fears in the party about poll outcomes in the hill state. It’s also due to intense lobbying in the Congress for the Chief Ministerial post as the opposition looks confident to turn the tables on the BJP .
Will the BJP be able to form the next government in Himachal, bucking a 37-year-old old trend of incumbent parties not returning to power? Will the congress make a comeback? That is the big question and the answer wil become known on December 8, the day Election Commission of India has fixed for counting of votes for Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.
Before this, the state BJP’s top leaders are heading for Dharamshala— the headquarters of Kangra on December 4. All contesting candidates, including sitting MLAs, party observers, state Election incharge and co-incharge have been invited for a seat-wise analysis of the factors impacting, or favouring the BJP.
“We are meeting once again on Monday to draw-up a clear picture of the trends in the voting. Things look quite positive for the BJP. We feel comfortable to form the next government with blessings of the people, who have trust in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and BJP government’s performance” Suresh Kashyap, BJP state president and sitting MP told Outlook, in an exclusive interview
Asked if BJP is nervous about the poll outcome, Kashyap said “There is no cause of nervousness on our side but the congress should prepare itself for a shock on December 8”.
On Congress’s ongoing lobbying for the next CM post, Kashyap said “That’s what is going to happen if the Congress ( by chance) gets the numbers. They are creating unnecessary hype”
Yet, the major BJP worry in Himachal Pradesh remains rebellion in the party. There are 21 rebels, including sitting and former MLAs contesting as Independents. Atleast 12 of them actually holds the potential to queer the pitch for the party. Thus, the BJP leadership is keeping an eye on some of the possible winners to take their support.
One of the party rebels Kripal Parmar, a former Rajya Sabha member was personally called -up over phone by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask him to retire from the contest to which he declined. A video of the conversation also went viral.
The party insiders admit that the BJP because of an undercurrent against the government could well be below its 2017 mark of 44 seats. Its tally may be between 34 to 36 seats thus will have a plan-B in place to rope in independents. Any of the congress rebels, potential to win, will also be on the BJP’s list.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur admits that the presence of a large number of rebels in the fray has been viewed seriously by the party. “So many of them contesting against the party is a matter of concern. The party leadership will certainly take a call on it, after the poll results” he says.
There are chances of BJP facing new turmoil over the rebels’ issue if the results go terribly wrong against some of the winnable candidates, losing their seats because of the rebels.
Old Pension Scheme (OPS) is yet another factor likely to jolt the BJP prospects as the government employees form a big chunk of electorates influencing the polls.
Nevertheless, the party is viewing Gujarat poll scenes as a silver lining and banking on the Modi factor. One of the indicators they feel is higher women turn-out in the election, which was 4.5% more than male voters.
In 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls and 2017 assembly elections, the Modi factor worked strongly in favour of the BJP.
The Congress doesn’t feel the Modi factor working in the state this time and that the state’s electoral history on its side.
“The people in Himachal Pradesh not electing an incumbent government is a history. This time also, they have voted for a change.They don’t want the BJP to stay in power. That’s why we are confident of forming the government” says Sukhwinder Sukhu, state campaign committee head, who is also Chief Ministerial post aspirant.
Meanwhile, hard lobbying has begun in Congress for the leadership. Top contenders, during the past week, have tried to reach out to Rahul Gandhi at his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
They included PCC president Pratibha Singh and her MLA son Vikramaditya Singh—who spent two days with Rahul Gandhi. Others viz Sukhwinder Sukhu and leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri
Others also met new AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi, besides party in charge Rajiv Shukla.
Vikramaditya Singh, who is the son of former Chief Minister late Virbhadra Singh has gone public about extending an invitation to Rahul Gandhi for attending the upcoming “oath ceremony” of the Congress government in Shimla.
Even before the poll results, there were reports that AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, who had campaigned in the state, had been entrusted with the job to choose the Chief Ministerial candidate of the party .
The Congress also fears that in the event of a close contest, the BJP is likely to indulge in horse trading. “The BJP has a lot of resources. And they will be ready to use it in the event the elections do not go in their favour,” alleges PCC spokesman Naresh Chauhan.
Courtesy : Outlook India
Note: This news piece was originally published in outlookindia.com and used purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Rights .