BJP lost Himachal and retained Gujarat. The magnificent win in Gujarat was marred by the Himachal loss. At the end ruling BJP was content with just 26 seats and Congress gained power with a tally of 36 seats, just one seat more than the majority required in a house of 68.
Both the ruling BJP and opposition Congress were plagued by factionalism. As in 2003 Vidhan Sabha elections, this time too the electorate punished dissidence within the ruling BJP and overlooked the same in the opposition Congress. Although BJP leaders did try to put a semblance of unity, yet in the allotment of tickets there was fierce bickering that cost it heavily.
Except for 1982 elections when BJP while in opposition won 31 seats, it is for the first time that when BJP lost power it could muster 26 seats. In 2003 it had to feel content with just 17 when Dhumal government was in power and in 1993 with 8 when following dismissal Shanta Kumar government was projected as the chief ministerial candidate.
The results have also smashed the myth that Kangra district is a BJP citadel. With just one seat out of 15 in its kitty the clear message is that there is no one as the uncrowned king of the district. The historic loss in Kangra can also be attributed to BJP loss of power in the State. With the poorest show at the hustings the biggest district of the State has given the knockout punch to the ruling BJP.
Another hint is that in the Valley of Gods, as Himachal is known, corruption and rising prices matter little. Shri Virbhadra Singh had to resign as Union Minister following framing of corruption charges against him and his wife in a court. Later, corruption charges surfaced against him when he was the Steel Minister. Yet with him at the helm of election affairs Congress won a screeching victory.
Still it remains uncertain whether the lone crusader for Congress victory Shri Virbhadra Singh will emerge as the new chief minister because all his detractors who will leave no stone unturned to prevent his crowning have won: former Congress President Kaul Singh Thakur, former CLP leader Mrs. Vidya Stokes, former minister G. S. Bali and Mrs. Asha Kumari AICC Secretary. Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma is also a stumbling block in Virbhadra’s ambitions.
The election results have cast a curtain on the electoral future of prominent leaders like former BJP Minister Roop Singh Thakur and suspended BJP MP Rajan Sushant whose wife contested the Fatehpur seat as an independent finishing fourth. Former Minister Miss Shyama Sharma too seems to have fought and lost her last electoral battle as Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP) candidate. There also remains a big question mark over the political future of HLP President Maheshwar Singh who did win as MLA after having burnt his boats with BJP.
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who won his seat, accepted the people’s verdict in all humility.
Interestingly, IPH minister Ravinder Singh who was denied a ticket from his own constituency and shifted to Dehra and former Health Minister Rajiv Bindal who contested from neighbouring Nahan following his home constituency having been reserved following delimitation of constituencies, won. BJP Kangra ministers Kishan Kapur and Ramesh Dhwala lost.