Himachal Pradesh election results: BJP on way to oust Congress
Both BJP and Congress, which ran a high-voltage campaign to win over the state’s 50 lakh-odd voters, are waiting with bated breath for the election outcome to be pronounced on Monday.india Updated: Dec 18, 2017 16:50 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looks set to take the reins of Himachal Pradesh after five years, with veteran party leader Prem Kumar Dhumal as its chief minister for the third time.
The BJP has surged ahead of the Congress in the hill state to cross the halfway mark of 34 seats in the 68-member house. According to figures released by the Election Commission of India, the BJP has bagged nine seats and is leading in about 35. The Congress, on the other hand, has won six seats and is leading in 15.
“We have crossed the halfway mark,” said BJP state spokesperson Ganesh Dutt, claiming that his party will form the next government in Himachal Pradesh.
Though the Congress and BJP have shared power alternately in the state since 1985, this election was a contest between two war horses from the state – chief minister Virbhadra Singh (83) and Dhumal (73). The BJP pronounced the latter as its chief ministerial candidate only a few days before Himachal Pradesh went to the polls on November 9.
The BJP initially projected Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the face of its campaign, but changed tack upon finding that he was under fire from the Congress for allegedly causing hardships to the people through the demonetisation initiative and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout. BJP national president Amit Shah’s subsequent declaration that Dhumal would be its chief ministerial candidate came as a setback for the faction led by Union health minister JP Nadda.
While the BJP contested the polls on the developmental plank as well as corruption charges against Virbhadra Singh, the Congress campaign focused more on the Prime Minister – particularly his twin initiatives of demonetisation and GST – than the party’s state leadership.
The BJP kicked off its election campaign much before the Congress. While Modi launched the saffron party’s campaign from Solan in June, the Congress stepped on the gas only with party president Rahul Gandhi’s rally at Bilaspur three months later.
As many as 337 candidates contested in the elections, which saw 37,83,580 people coming out to vote (a record 75.28% polling). In 2012, the Congress won 36 seats while the BJP bagged 26. Independents claimed six seats in that election.