Shimla: The Modi wave sweeping across much of India had no cover left for Congress in Himachal Pradesh where even chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh, the party candidate from Mandi, lost to newcomer Ram Swaroop Sharma by over 39,000 votes.
BJP not only won all the four seats in the state but also won Sujanpur Tira assembly segment, the bye election for which was held along with the parliamentary poll, to make the rout complete for the ruling party in the state.
In Kangra old guard BJP leader Shanta Kumar won by over 1.7 lakh vote margin, in Shimla sitting MP Virender Kashyap overcame anti-incumbency to retain the seat by a margin of over 73 thousand votes and in Hamirpur two time MP Anurag Thakur has won by over 83 thousand votes.
What has come as a shock to the 17 month old Virbhadra government Mandi was that despite a cabinet of 11 ministers, Congress did not have a lead in any assembly segment over BJP, which included Shimla rural seat represented by the chief minister himself.
Less than a year ago, Pratibha Singh had only won the Mandi seat in a bye election by a margin of over 1.3 lakh votes. On being elected chief minister, the seat had been vacated by her husband Virbhadra Singh. Greenhorn Ram Swaroop Sharma was being considered a weak BJP candidate as the party took a lot of time to announce a candidate for the seat.
The results declared today showed that barring 5 assembly segments, BJP had a decisive lead in 12 of them to wrest the seat from Congress. The rout was so complete that the even the assembly represented by Kaul Singh Thakur, Prakash Chaudhary and Anil Sharma, ministers in the Virbhadra cabinet, BJP had a lead over congress in them.
In Kangra, BJP lead in all 17 assembly segments giving a thumping majority to Shanta Kumar. The seat was earlier also held by BJP but the party had not only denied a ticket to outgoing MP Rajhan Sushant but also had expelled him from the party. Sushant contested the seat on a AAP ticket but lost his security deposit by polling a mere 24430 votes.
In Hamirpur, BJP’s Anurag Thakur retained the seat by trouncing Congress candidate Rajinder Singh Rana decisively. Barring in one assembly segment, Congress trailed in 16 assembly segments.
|Congress||Rajinder Singh Rana||349632|
|AAP||Mrs Kamal Kant Batra||15329|
|BJP||Ram Swaroop Sharma||362824|
|Congress||Mohan Lal Brakta||301786|
In the Sujanpur Tira assembly segment, Narinder Thakur of BJP defeated Anita Kumari Rana of Congress by a thin margin of 538 votes. Thakur polled 22993 votes against Rana’s 22455 votes.
Virbhadra refuses to resign – says government will last full term
Poor performance of Congress in the state notwithstanding, chief minister Virbhadra Singh has refused to step down saying that he had the mandate of the people to run a government for full five year, which he would fulfill.
Flanked by senior minister Vidya Stokes and the youthful minister Sudhir Sharma at a hurriedly convened press conference the chief minister categorically said, “I have no intention to resign.”
When pointed out that Tarun Gogoi, chief minister of Assam, having offered to resign for the poor performance of the party in the state, Virbhadra reacted, “He may have his compulsions to resign, I have none. Just over a year ago, the voters elected my government for a full five year term and I intend to honour the mandate.”
Rubbishing opposition leader Prem Kumar Dhumal’s statement seeking resignation of the chief minister for the party’s poor performance, Virbhadra said that there was a stable government in Himachal which would last its term.
“I would like to tell Mr Dhumal that if wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” he said.
Ruling out any anti-incumbency against the state government in the elections, he cited the ‘Modi wave’ for making a clean sweep in Himachal also.
“I congratulate Narendra Modi for the victory and hope that he fulfills the aspirations that he has aroused,” he said.
The chief minister also held a highly visible media blitz campaign responsible for Modi’s victory. ‘ A relentless coverage by over 500 plus channels was unprecedented in India, the Congress simply could not match the resources of BJP, he said.
About the identity crisis facing the party as it scored its lowest numbers ever in all 16 Lok Sabha elections, Virbhadra said that the party had faced such situations before and would definitely bounce back.