The surprise sprung by AAP in Delhi has set alarm bells ringing both for Congress and BJP, who have been sharing a cozy love hate relationship for decades here in this otherwise peaceful state.
With no third alternative in place, and each of these parties taking time out for five years to return to power not because of pinning down the bad governance of the ruling party but by simply riding the anti-incumbency vote, the Delhi vote has indicated that where a green shoot alternative shows up, the voter is willing to nourish it with its trust.
Not policies but it is personality politics that sets the agenda in Himachal. All that an opposition party, be it either the Congress or BJP, has been doing for term after term is to draw up a charge sheet, present it with fanfare to the Governor, and draw the voters attention to the allegations leveled.
Once in power, the first two year in office, instead of setting out a positive agenda to empower the states economy, a witch hunt is launched to whosoever was close to the party voted out of power.
The shadow boxing is such that there no knockout punches are struck by either party.
Take the case of BJP coming to power in 1998 with the help of Sukh Ram’s Himachal Vikas Congress.
Much was made out of some Sagar Katha case and alleged recruitment on chits scam during the run up to the election and also after change in government.
No one has been held accountable in the Sagar Katha case and last heard of there was some minor case in chit scam case which was still languishing before the courts, where it was being prepared for a quiet burial.
From 1998 t0 2003, Congress as an opposition party drew up charge sheet after charge sheet but exercised no real opposition and only waited their turn at power.
Only once in a while little noise about rising unemployment numbers was heard.
Just when elections were announced in 2003, personal and damaging corruption charges were leveled against the then incumbent chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.
Allegations remained allegations, no case was ever made out and no investigation was done.
Last heard Cpt Amarinder Singh, the former chief minister of Punjab (one of the persons to have leveled the allegations) had made peace with Dhumal and blamed the media for wrongly quoting him.
His name stands dropped from the damages suit filed by Dhumal while, while Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Congress treasurer Moti Lal Vohra have been evading the court for over a decade where the damages suit is still pending.
After Congress won the election in 2003, computers of the chief minister’s office were seized and the story was sold for the rest of the 4 and half year term that grave secrets and wrongdoings laid encrypted in the ‘hard disk’ of the seized computers.
A list of candidates appointed out of turn on political recommendations and nepotism at the Hamirpur based Subordinate Service Selection Board was revealed just before the elections were called in 2007.
Surely cases against one former IAS officer SM Katawl, who headed the Subordinate Service Selection Board at that time were made out, in which the court even convicted the officer, but to the observation of all no case against any influential political leader was registered or made out.
To capture the imagination of the voter for the 2007 election, BJP as the opposition party had many contentious issues but happily latched onto a CD that allegedly had two decade old phone call voice recordings of the incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh talking to a deceased IAS officer about some illegal money transactions.
Through the 2007 -2012 BJP term in office, the most prominent issue remained the CD case. An FIR was lodged, investigation done, and charges framed against Virbhadra Singh and his MP wife Pratibha Singh.
Much to the surprise of the judiciary and everyone else, the trail court absolved Virbhadra Singh of corruption charges just a day before he was to take oath as chief minister for the sixth term on 25th December, 2012.
Through the 2007-2012 term, the aging congress leadership made no serious effort to expose the wrong doings of the ruling party but waited on the sidelines to return to power.
Noise about Himachal On Sale, Bantony Castle sale and Bamloe Builders violations was all that did figure in the charge sheets of the period.
Mushrooming of private universities was linked to land law violations, fanning the Himachal On Sale elections slogan.
With Baba Ramdev and noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan turning bitter critics of the Congress Party, their names were added to the growing list of land law violation cases.
Reminiscent of the earlier term and on the eve of taking oath, none other than the chief secretary of the outgoing government raided the computers installed in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and their hard disks were seized.
Out of the data on the computers it stumbled out that gross violations of the Indian Telegraph Act had been made when it was discovered that thousands of phone calls had been allegedly illegally tapped and recorded
Since the violations, in active connivance with the political bosses, was done by police officers, loud noises about booking the guilty quickly were made.
Last heard of, the investigations were moving at a snail’s pace.
No one had been named in the FIRs, and since the investigators would have to make out cases against fellow police officers, a go slow approach had been adopted.
Where peoples needs for better roads, good schools and hospitals deserve attention as much as improving livelihood means, the current Congress government, faced with a financial crunch and lack of a positive agenda, is going all out after HPCA – Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, in a bid to discredit its lifetime president Anurag Thakur.
In the process Anurag Thakur, son of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, is being given a fresh lease of life as a youth leader of BJP.
Fair or foul, none can deny that the Dharamshala cricket stadium has done more to branding of Himachal Pradesh as a scenic destination than the entire publicity campaigns run by government agencies.
But to settle political scores, the asset is in real danger of being permanently damaged.
The Delhi elections has thrown up possibilities of upstarts capturing the imagination of the voter and disturbing the power equilibrium that the BJP and Congress share nationally and in states like Himachal Pradesh.
The match fixing game of personality politics here is both alarmed and cautioned by rise of AAP in the capital.
Does it remain a drop in the ocean or spread out to become a wave for the 2014 election is what will be keenly watched?
Image Craft: Ravinder Makhaik