Himachal Pradesh Elections: A Curtain Raiser
Himachal Pradesh will go to the polls on November 9 to elect a new Chief Minister. The term of the present 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly culminates on January 7, 2017. Results of the election, which will be held in a single phase, will be announced on December 18. With the announcement of the elections, the model code of conduct has come into force. The last date for filling of nominations in the state is October 23. For the very first time in the history of the state, there would be 136 all-women-managed polling stations. Two polling stations would be set up in each constituency. After Goa, Himachal Pradesh would be the second state with 100 percent VVPAT (paper trail of votes) coverage. According to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Pushpender Rajput, the number of registered voters in Himachal Pradesh was 49,13,888.
Himachal Pradesh, currently under congress rule is headed by Virbhadra Singh. The state will witness a tough fight between Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party. Since 1985, the state has witnessed anti-incumbency with the government in power being voted out to be replaced by the opposition party. In the 2012 Himachal Pradesh legislative assembly elections, the Congress Party defeated Prem Kumar Dhumal-led BJP, which was the ruling party, by winning 36 out of the 68 seats in the state. The BJP could get only 26 seats. Anti-incumbency sentiment among the people arising due to the absence of good governance and corruption in the state led to the downfall of the BJP government. In the 2007 elections, BJP was the winner bagging 42 of the 68 seats.
Given the history of the state of not electing the ruling party back to power, will the anti-incumbency factor once again come into play? However, the BJP, which has set a target of 50 plus seats, will like to see that the trend continues. Meanwhile, the party has not yet named its candidate for the Chief Minister’s post. However, as per sources, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal is likely to be appointed to the top position in the state if the BJP wins. Another likely candidate for the post is JP Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare.
In case, the Congress retains power in the state, 83-year-old Virbhadra Singh is likely to return as CM. The leader, who was written off by his rivals in the Congress due to his age and corruption allegations, got another chance when his name for the CM’s pots was announced by Rahul Gandhi, Vice President of the Congress Party at a rally on October 7. Virbhadra Singh is expected to contest from Arki seat in Solan district and his son Vikramaditya from Shimla (Rural) constituency.
The Communist Party of India will filed candidates on 30 out of the 68 assembly seats in the state.