Himachal Pradesh assembly elections will be held later this year as the term of the current legislative assembly ends on 7th January, 2018. The elections are being held for 68 assembly seats out of which, presently, 36 are occupied by the Congress while 26 belong to BJP.
A two member election commision team arrived in Shimla last wednesday to review the preparations being made for the assembly elections. The team included Deputy Election Commissioners Sandeep Saxena and Umesh Sinha. The two held talks with the top level civil and police officers to know the situation of preparations better. The senior commissioners also stated that VVPAT machines will be in use for the elections.
Ahead of assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, the current Chief Minister of the state, Virbhadra Singh is seen making rounds of the state for laying down foundation stones at various places. The inaugurations have sprung up foreseeing the code of conduct of elections to be applicable probably within a week. Although the CM has said that there is enough budget to provide for these schemes and all the works and announcements are made after due considerations and ensuring availability of funds, BJP has been accusing him of the opposite. The chief minister has also directed Public Works Department (PWD) to complete all the pending projects within a stipulated time period as it affects the state on both cost and time front.
BJP is quite confident that the party will rule the state in the elections which is why BJP chief Amit Shah is visiting district Kangra on 22nd September to address a youth rally. Parivartan Yatras and Yuva Aakrosh rallies have been continuing from BJP in the state since April. BJP is not likely to announce its chief ministerial candidate until the polls and will use PM Narendra Modi as its mascot to attract voters.
While BJP gets ready for fighting Congress in the elections, Congress is having a little spat of its own among its members. CM Virbhadra Singh is favoring Asha Kumari, senior party member to be the state Congress chief and wants Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, the current Congress chief of the state, to be removed. The CM also met party president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi to discuss on this matter. The party is currently divided with half of them favoring the CM while the other half wanting Sukhu to maintain his position. A decision in the matter is expected when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi arrives back from his Norway visit. But it is being said that he will not give in to the pressure of the chief minister and will favour a younger leader like Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.
Since 1990, Himachal Pradesh has seen alternated ruling parties for each 5-year term. It is therefore quite likely that BJP gains power in the state this time. It will be interesting to see what decision does Congress make regarding the party’s internal dispute. It will also be noteworthy to know what Amit Shah has in store for the state in his rally on 22nd September.