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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

BJP dominance continues in Himachal bypolls

Himachal Pradesh has seen byelections on 12 assembly seats since 1998, of which the BJP has won 10 and Congress two.

india Updated: Oct 25, 2019 22:41 IST
Naresh K Thakur
Naresh K Thakur
Hindustan Times, Dharamshala
Hindustantimes
         

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued its electoral dominance in Himachal Pradesh bypolls with a thumping victory in Dharamshala and Pachhad assembly segments.  

Despite the fact that the hill state has witnessed change of the guard every five years since 1996, the BJP has emerged victorious in all the byelections, barring two, in the last two decades.

The saffron party’s candidate, Vishal Nehria, won the Dharamshala seat while Reena Kashyap registered a victory in Pachhad.

Himachal Pradesh has seen byelections on 12 assembly seats since 1998, of which the BJP has won 10 and Congress two.

Interestingly, the Congress lost eight byelections as a ruling party. The two wins it recorded came when the party was in opposition.

A byelection was held for two assembly segments — Pragpur and Baijnath — in 1998, the year when the saffron party came into power under the leadership of Prem Kumar Dhumal.

The BJP not only retained Pragpur, but also snatched the Baijnath seat, a fortress of the Congress until then.

Next bypoll was held for Solan seat in 2000 after sitting Congress legislator Krishna Mohini’s election was declared void by the Supreme Court. BJP’s Rajiv Bindal wrested the seat from the Congress.

In 2004, bypoll was held for Jawali assembly segment after sitting Congress MLA Chander Kumar was elected to the Lok Sabha. Despite the Congress being in power, the saffron party breached into its stronghold with Harbans Rana defeating Kumar’s son Neeraj Bharti.

In 2009 bypolls to Rohru and Fatehpur assembly segments, the ruling BJP dominated in the former segment — a Congress bastion — but trailed in the latter. Kushi Ram Balnahta was elected from Rohru and Sujan Singh Pathania from Fatehpur.

In 2011, Nalagarh and Renuka seats went to bypolls after the death of sitting BJP legislator Hari Narayan Saini. The the BJP lost its stronghold to Congress’ Lakhvinder Singh Rana. However, it won Renuka seat, where the Congress had a foothold.

Bypoll for Sujanpur seat was held in 2014 after sitting independent MLA had to quit the assembly as he joined the Congress and contested the Lok Sabha polls from Hamirpur parliamentary seat.

The election was won by BJP’s Narinder Thakur. In 2017, Bhoranj seat fell vacant due to the death of veteran BJP leader Ishwar Das Dhiman. The saffron party fielded Dhiman’s son and won with a huge margin. The Congress was in power during both the times.

The BJP’s recent victory in Dharmashala is the second biggest in terms of margin in the last two decades.

Nehria wrested the Dharamshala seat by a margin of 6,758 votes. Earlier, former minister Kishan Kapoor had defeated Congress’ Chandresh Kumari by 7,616 votes.

Interestingly, the contest was triangular on both the occasions. In 2007, former Congress minister Vijai Singh Mankotia, who was contesting as a BSP candidate, had made the contest triangular and the same situation was created by Independent Rakesh Chaudhary this time.