Worry signs for BJP and Congress in Himachal

Shimla : In the end the pundits got it wrong . They said the Renuka seat would go to the Congress and the Nalagarh seat to the BJP.

Some even said the BJP would win both ——but in the end surprisingly the BJP bagged Renuka and the Congress pocketed Nalagarh.

These by-polls have shown that lazy politicians seem to overrate the ‘sympathy factor’ after the death of candidate . And so hand over tickets to their family members even if they don’t have the competence or any clue about politics .

Instead of being more professional and fielding strong and competent candidates both the parties chose to try their luck by fielding weak candidates and tried to benefit from the ‘sympathy wave’, but the voter rejected both of them .

By rejecting two novice candidates the smart voters of these two assembly seats have actually rapped the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress in a sound manner .

The voter is perhaps trying to tell the two main political parties in the state that they cannot be taken for granted . Competency of the candidate matters and only good candidates can tackle local issues .

These by-poll results have also revealed that chief minister P.K. Dhumal has failed to woo the voters and so have Kaul Singh and Virbhadra Singh .

Ideally the BJP’s central command in Delhi must have expected Dhumal to have won both the seats , as he is in power in Shimla and under his command the party takes on arch rivals Congress in the assembly polls a year later .

These results do not bode well for Dhumal as the anti-incumbency factor will only grow in the next year .

Not only should he have won both these seats , he should have won them with a comfortable majority . But he only won one seat , that to with a slight margin .

Not that the divided Congress has much to cheer about , in fact it needs to worry as much . These by-election results are a failure of Kaul Singh the state party chief .

Under his command the Congress has lost the Renuka seat which has always been a Congress stronghold .

Should the party have given ticket to an incompetent candidate in Renuka , a candidate who enjoys a very poor image among locals .

Kaul Singh should have ideally won both seats to take on the BJP in the forthcoming polls . Now he will seen as weak as he takes on the BJP and the factions within his own party .

Then there is union minister Virbhadra Singh who too has failed . His much hyped presence in Sirmaur during the election campaign has had no impact . Rejected by the voter he must own up for this loss and answer why such a poor candidate was backed by him .

Many are already questioning where is the Virbhadra ability to attract the crowds and the voters .

With the state going to the polls a year from now the battle field looks very chaotic in Himachal .

While the BJP under Dhumal will have to do something very special in the next months to woo the voters . He will also need to keep his flock together to take on the Congress in the assembly polls .

The Congress’ divided house looks even more chaotic . Can the party set aside its differences and gather and unite under one roof to take on the BJP which will come hard at them .

The next few months will set the tone for an interesting poll battle ahead .

In a 20 year career published widely. He has worked for the BBC, AFP, The Statesman, IANS and the Business Standard . Known for his hard hitting writing and occasional off-beat stories. He lives in Shimla.

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