The Bharatiya Janata Party has proved that now it could easily climb the Himalayas. Himachal Pradesh is the example after Gujarat where the nationalist party has come to power with a thumping majority. It has got 41 seats out of total 68. The ruling Congress could manage to win only 23 seats.
Five ministers of the Congress government have succumbed to the saffron wave. Some former ministers of Congress also lost in the fray. Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal has termed this victory as ?people'smandate against the corrupt Congress government led by Shri Virbhadra Singh? and said that the people have expressed their faith in the policies of BJP. Shri Shanta Kumar has expressed his happiness over the success of the party and reassured his full support to Prof. Dhumal in running the government. Shri Satya Pal Jain, Incharge of HP Affairs in BJP and mastermind behind the victory, has said that the victory has proved the unity within the party.
It was clear from day one that the Congress was not ready to face the electoral. When the elections of Assembly were declared by the Election Commission, Chief Minister was away in United States on his official tour. At that time his first reaction was against the decision of Election Commission. He repeatedly criticised the statutory institution and went to the extent of saying that the Commission was playing in the hands of BJP. Shri Virbhadra Singh indirectly accepted his defeat when he went on record that his government would not resign and continue till the term of present Assembly is over on 9th March, 2008.
Not only this, Shri Sat Mahajan, a senior minister of his Cabinet, prepared to file a writ petition in the Himachal Pradesh High Court to stop the counting of votes till 9th March, 2008. But the Congress high command took strong exception over the move of the Chief Minister and strictly directed him not to pursue further. After this drama only, he gave a statement that ?keeping in view the highest traditions of Congress party?, he would accept the people'smandate and resign, if the party is defeated.
The BJP fought the election on three major issues?corruption, price hike and development. And the Congress made ?development? as its election issue. Now when the mandate has come in favour of BJP, it is clear that the voters have rejected the policies of ruling Congress party. The voters vetted the stand of BJP that the Chief Minister and his wife Smt. Pratibha Singh, MP, Rajya Sabha, were indulged in corruption. The audio CD, which was made public by Major Vijay Singh Mankotia, the then stalwart of Congress, during Hamirpur Parliamentary bye-elections, also played a major role in convincing the voters that the Congress leadership is not neat and clean. Some other issues of corruption against the Congress leaders were raised by the opposition during the campaign.
The upper hand of BJP could easily be been seen from the beginning of election campaign. When Prof. Dhumal was declared the chief ministerial candidate by the party, it was said that the bickering within the BJP would increase. But these speculations had no weightage and the poll strategy prepared under the guidance of Shri Sat Pal Jain was so foolproof that even in the district of Kangra, the stronghold of Shri Shanta Kumar, no major dissidence surfaced. Shri Jain tried his best to bridge the gap between Prof. Dhumal and Shri Shanta Kumar and succeeded in his mission. Shri Shanta Kumar, a strong contender for chief ministership, also showed his grace and even after tremendous pressure from his supporters, he extended his full support to Prof. Dhumal.
Contrary to that, the Congress faced immense factionalism. Smt. Viplove Thakur, the PCC president, and her group opposed tickets to the loyalists of Shri Virbhadra Singh. The high command of Congress also declined to project Shri Virbhadra Singh as the next Chief Minister. Smt. Thakur and the leaders of her group did not participate sincerely in election campaign. It was only Shri Virbhadra Singh who tried to fought the battle alone. Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi also came to rescue the Congress in the state, but they failed badly. Shri L.K. Advani, Shri Rajnath Singh, Smt. Sushma Swaraj and Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi were among the star campaigners of the BJP.
Bahujan Samaj Party was also a major player in the present elections and contested on all 68 seats. Mayawati had claimed that her party will form the government in HP after Uttar Pradesh. Major Mankotia was declared the chief ministerial candidate of BSP. But he was defeated. The BSP got only success in Kangra Assembly segment where its candidate defeated a former minister of erstwhile BJP government. Three independents also won the election. One thing is very interesting that despite its first sincere effort in Himachal elections, the BSP secured seven per cent votes. The triangular fight was witnessed in more than 50 per cent segments and the BSP proved to be a deciding factor. The BJP got 44 per cent votes and Congress got 39 per cent votes.