The BJP on Friday registered a splendid victory in Himachal Pradesh, winning all four Parliament constituencies including the prestigious Mandi, where sitting MP and Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh lost.
This is the first time Himachal voters have broken the tradition of voting for an incumbent government in parliamentary elections. The Narendra Modi wave turned the tables on the Congress even as its lacklustre rule and charges of corruption and misgoverance put the BJP at a great advantage.
The election results have come as a big blow for Virbhadra, and a thumping victory for former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who had lost power to Virbhadra in the 2012 Assembly polls.
Adding to the Congress woes, the BJP wrested Sujanpur Assembly seat, where Rajinder Rana’s wife Anita Rana lost the bypoll by 538 votes.
BJP veteran Shanta Kumar created history of sorts in Himachal by winning Kangra seat with an all-time high margin of 1.7 lakh votes. He defeated former MP Chander Kumar, an OBC leader. Shanta polled 5,56,213 votes while Chander Kumar got 2,86,073 votes. Shanta had represented Kangra in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Rajan Sushant, sitting BJP MP who had resigned to contest as AAP candidate, polled 24,430 votes.
No less important is the victory of BJP MP Anurag Thakur, Dhumal’s son and HPCA president, who defeated Congress’s Rajinder Rana by an impressive 98,330 votes. Rana, a BJP renegade, had switched sides to Virbhadra after winning the Sujanpur Assembly seat in 2012. Anurag polled 4,47,490 votes while his nearest rival, Rana, got 3,49,160 votes. Kamal Kanta Batra, mother of Kargil war hero Capt Vikram Batra, who was AAP candidate, got 15,316 votes.
Two-time MP Pratibha Singh lost by 39,856 votes. The big winner, Ram Swaroop Sharma of the BJP, polled 3,62,824 votes. Pratibha had won the seat in June 2013 by 1.36 lakh votes in the bypoll after the seat was vacated by Virbhadra, when he became Chief Minister after the December 2012 polls.
Shimla, considered a Congress bastion for decades, was swept by sitting MP Virender Kashyap, who defeated light-weight Mohan Lal Brakta, first-time MLA from Rohru, by 84,195 votes. This is the second consecutive time the BJP has won the Congress bastion.
The worst jolt for the Congress was at Sujanpur Assembly constituency where Narinder Thakur, son of veteran BJP leader (late) Jagdev Chand, polled 22,993 votes over 22,455 votes of Anita Rana. Thakur, earlier in the Congress, had joined the BJP before the Lok Sabha polls. His sister-in-law and former MLA Urmil Thakur had quit the BJP in protest against the BJP’s decision to give a ticket to Narinder and joined the Congress.