The outcome of the bye election to Hamirpur Lok sabha seat may prove a danger signal for the Congress in general and the Chief Minister, Vir Bhadra Singh in particular in the coming Vidhan sabha elections slated in February 2008. The chief minister canvassed during the election period on the analogy of fighting the Vidhan sabha elections. His main agenda was the development and the eradication of corruption from the society.
Senior BJP leader and former chief minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal won this election by a margin of 80,059 votes and thereby saved the prestige of the party. The party has lost this seat due to unseating of Suresh Chandel in cash for query scam issue. This issue had rocked the nation. However, the BJP leaders and workers worked hard as a result, they were able to retain the seat and that too with big margin. In 2004 election, Chandel had won this seat with a petty margin of 1,625 votes.
Dhumal has emerged stronger from this election and now a front runner for the post of chief minister, in case the BJP returns to power in 2008 elections. It was his charisma that led the party to win the seat from scratches.
However, both of his agendas mis-fired. People of Hamirpur Parliamentary constituency didn’t believe the equal and balanced development of the state and party suffered much in the Hamirpur district, the home district of Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, the MP elect.
Dhumal had served the state as chief minister from 1998 to 2003 and had spent more than 550 crore rupees in Hamirpur district alone on various developmental activities. And that is why; he got full support of the people of the district in general and Bamsan assembly constituency in particular. He represents Bamsan in the state assembly and got maximum lead of 20,586 votes from there in the bye poll.
Secondly, on the corruption issue, the chief minister became defensive when one of his own former ministers, Major Vijay Singh Mankotia released a CD to the media leveling a number of corruption charges against chief minister, the chief minister has described the CD as fake one and released to harm his image in the public.
The election results reveal that Congress failed to win the heart of the people in all the seventeen assembly segments. The party could get lead in two assembly segments of Kot Kehloor, the native constituency of the party candidate, Ram Lal Thakur and Santoshgarh, the constituency of another form CPS, Mukhesh Agnihotri. However, the lead in both areas went down this time as compared to last election. So much so that the Congress suffered badly in the Gagret assembly segment of Kuldip Kumar, the Industries Minister of state, who was credited with mass industrialization in the area. He too failed to manage lead for the party and went down by 1,240 votes. The fire brand youth leader of Congress, Rakesh Kalia from Chintpurni too fared badly and gave a lead of 3,432 votes to the BJP.
The Congress suffered reverses in the Dehra revenue sub division of Kangra district and state party chief, Viplab Thakur went down by 1,252 votes in her own constituency of Jaswan. The party also failed to prevent the BJP from sweeping the poll from Jwalamukhi and Pragpur areas of the Kangra and lost the battle.
In Hamirpur district too, the Congress fared much below expectations. The internal feud in the party came open and as a result the party failed to get lead in either of five assembly segments of the district. Only Sukhvinder Singh Sukhoo, the HP Youth Congress chief and party MLA from nadaun was able to contain the BJP lead to 3,802 votes.
From Hamirpur sadar, the lady Congress leader, Anita Verma, considered close to Ram lal Thakur failed to provide any relief to Thakur. The Congress went down by 12,559 votes. It was one of the worst humiliations for Mrs. Verma, who used to project as the next Chief Minister of state on women quota system.
The Mewa (reserve) assembly segment of Hamirpur as well as Nadaunta once again went against the Congress thanks to infighting amongst its leaders. The top leadership of the party is to be blamed for such a mess. The party suffered much in both areas and lost by more than ten thousand votes each in both segments.
In Bilaspur district too, Ram Lal Thakur riding on the crest of Congress ticket failed to take lead for him except from his own segment of Kot kehloor. The party suffered much in rest of three segments and could get lead of just 696 votes from this district too.
There is general feeling among the people that failure of the Congress to contain the rising trend of the prices, to give jobs to un-employed youth as per its last election manifesto and to save the lives of women folk from the anti social elements led to such a major defeat for the Congress in the bye election. The statement of the Chief Minister that price rise was no issue in the election went against the Congress and that issue became the major issue in the election and the Congress had to pay the heavy price for a small statement of the Chief Minister.
Political analysts of the state believe that the role of the top Congress leadership to nurse their own friends in the party rather than nursing the grass root workers led to such a pass in the bye election. They fear that if this trend continued in the coming months, the Congress will not be able to recover from the shock and will have to face reverses in other areas of the state too in the coming Vidhan sabha elections due in year 2008.
Will the Congress high command give serious thoughts to the reverses, the party suffered in Hamirpur Parliamentary constituency and project some young, honest and energetic persons for the coming elections?
If he party behaves in a proper manner only then it is safe, otherwise, no one can prevent the BJP from forming its government in the state after the next Vidhan sabha elections and that too under the leadership of Prem Kumar Dhumal?