The Election Commission of India is likely to announce the dates for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly on Thursday. The tenure of the House ends in January 2018. The 68-member Assembly is currently ruled by the Congress which holds 36 seats compared to Opposition BJP which has 26. Since 1985, the state has never re-elected a party apart from the Congress and BJP. Prior to BJP’s first win in the state in 1990, Congress had conceded power only once to the Janta Party in 1977.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who has also served multiple Lok Sabha terms, will fight for a seventh term as CM. On the other hand, the BJP will be riding on the back of resounding victories in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand where the party won 312 seats out of 403 and 56 out of 70 seats, respectively in 2017. BJP MP Anurag Thakur indicated in March that the party is eyeing around 60 seats in the upcoming elections.
Himachal Pradesh is one of the few states where the Congress remains in power and it will be crucial for the party to retain.
The BJP comes on the back of a sweeping Lok Sabha victory in the state too. It won all four seats in 2014 including the Mandi seat, known to be a Congress stronghold and then held by Virbhadra’s wife Pratibha Singh.