The election results of Himachal Pradesh Assembly once again indicate that the wind is not blowing in favour of the Congress or the UPA. Whether it was Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, Bengal, Gujarat or Himachal, the Congress has lost. There are only two political parties?the BJP and the Congress?which have been winning elections in alternate terms in the state. This time the BSP also entered the fray.
In the last election the major issue was corruption and sluggishness in the developmental programmes. There are two major castes in HP?Brahmins and Rajput. It had always been seen there that elections to snow-bound areas in the state are held two to three months after the elections in the rest of the state and the voters used to vote for the party which had got maximum seats. But this time the government opted to have elections to these seats prior to the elections to other seats. Interestingly, the BJP won all these seats. Thus the voting behaviour of snow-bound areas also reveals the future trends. For the first time the BJP could win 20 seats from old Himachal and 21 from merged areas. Two BJP candidates lost by less than 50 votes and one seat by almost 20 votes. Thus, the myth that the BJP wins only from merged areas was shattered once for all. Though the BJP lost Jaswan seat to Congress, the state Congress president'sbrother won by 113 votes, it won Shimla seat after many years by a margin of about 2600 votes.
The swing of the voters had been towards the BJP. It is due to the sincere efforts of the previous BJP state president, now an MLA from Shimla, Shri Suresh Bhardwaj, who moved heaven and earth to win over the dissatisfied BJP leaders who had left BJP in the last elections and contested as independent candidates. Many of them have won on BJP ticket this time. The former, chief minister and popular leader Shri Shanta Kumar along with Shri Suresh Bhardwaj, Shri Dhumal and the present president Shri Joshi put in great efforts. It is the joint effort of all these leaders that Smt Sonia, Rahul, Ambika Soni and other major leaders? mass propaganda fell on deaf ears and relatives of the Congress leaders could not win.
Himachal is a small area and its constituencies and are very small. Voters are well awakened. They assess performance and keep a vigil on their leaders and scrutinise them. If found against their expectations, they get rid of them at the earliest opportunity they get. The experience of leaders like Shri Shanta Kumar or Shri Suresh Bhardwaj or Shri Roop Singh Thakur can help in the developmental plans. The Congress is losing its moorings. The age of old leaders has gone. New corruption-free leadership is the need of the hour.
(The author is Pro-Vice Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala and can be contacted at 195, Manu Apartments, Mayur Vihar, Phase I, New Delhi-110 092.)