December 19, 2017 6:05:44 am
The Congress’s strategy to use demonetisation and GST a poll planks in Himachal Pradesh to retain power failed to pay off but the BJP’s anti-incumbency agenda, coupled with issues such as mafia raj and lack of governance in the state under Virbhadra Singh, seems to have paid off.
There were no takers for the Congress’s development slogan like “Jawaab dega Himachal” to counter the BJP’s “Hisab Mange Himachal” campaign to highlight corruption and non-governance.
Many believe that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s card worked in the state especially on the his slogan of “double engine” growth —- the promise that a BJP government in the state can bring in better governance and development because of the NDA at the Centre.
The Prime Minister, having a close connection with the state at the time he was general secretary in-charge in 1998 when Prem Kumar Dhumal formed the government with coalition with Sukh Ram’s Himachal Vikas Congress, could have proved to the BJP’s advantage.
The state having dependency on the Centre for grants looked a convenient factor for going for the change as the incumbent Congress government had mostly been accusing the NDA of not sanctioning projects or releasing grants. Thus, the Prime Minister’s three major Parivartan rallies before the polls drew sizeable crowds.
Much of the BJP’s victory could be a pattern for change after every five years. But, the BJP’s booth-level strategy of pooling resources and systematic attack on Virbhadra Singh, his corruption cases and corruption charges against ministers, also made the party’s task easy, especially where the party fielded new leaders. The Congress also suffered loss for lack of resources for the campaign against the BJP’s high-profile campaign and presence of their star campaigners.
The Congress seemed it has left it all up to Virbhadra to manage everything. He went on record to speak about shortage of funds for the campaigns. Only Congress candidates who worked on their levels and dealt with local issues won. However, the loss of Prem Kumar Dhumal has made some of his loyalists cite sabotage. Some of his associates said that had Dhumal contested from hamirpur, he would have had a better chance of winning.
Several of Dhumal’s loyalists such as Ravinder Ravi, Gulab Singh Thakur and Randhir Sharma have also lost.
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