The Congress government has been formed in Himachal Pradesh once again. The Congress wrested a state from the Bhartiya Janata Party and formed the government with absolute majority. For the BJP, Himachal Pradesh was a state to which its prestige was attached in many ways. Firstly, it is the home state of BJP National President JP Nadda. Secondly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has worked here as in-charge for a long time. That is why during the election campaign, he kept saying that ‘Himachal is my second home’. Thirdly, Himachal has the largest population of followers of Hinduism in the country.
Himachal’s election results have proved many things altogether. Firstly, if the citizens are educated and aware, they cannot be misled or tricked in any way. We have to consider that Himachal comes second only to Kerala in terms of literacy and has a large number of government employees. Himachal is also the state that sends the maximum number of soldiers to the army. That’s why all the tricks of the BJP failed here - Neither the slogan of implementing Article 370 in Kashmir worked, nor the lie of taking the country’s economy to the heights, nor the promise of implementing ‘Uniform Civil Code’ in the manifesto had any effect.
Himachal is also known as the ‘Land of Heroes’. Anger and displeasure was also seen towards the army recruitment scheme ‘Agnipath’, imposed on the youth of the country and Himachal by the BJP at the Centre. This was also one of the reasons why the youth preparing to join the army voted against the BJP and in favour of the Congress.
The humiliating defeat of the BJP in Himachal has proved secondly that the magic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now waning. Neither there was crowd in his meetings nor his words had any effect on people. Perhaps this is the reason why BJP lost the elections at every place where Modi Ji’s meetings were held. Victory was achieved only at places where he could not reach allegedly due to bad weather.
Thirdly, it has been proved that even though BJP calls itself the advocate of Hindus by raising the slogan of ‘Hindutva’, but in reality, the followers of Hinduism do not the like the Party. In fact, it is a Party that creates rifts and incites Hindu sentiments, and whenever elections are held on public issues, its Hindutva, used as a weapon, will prove to be blunt (futile).
And the last thing, it has been proved that the Congress in this country is deep-rooted and is bouncing back. It is okay that Congress did not get success in the last few elections, but to consider defeat as the end of a political party like Congress would be like underestimating the democratic tradition of India and the power of the people.
With the slogan “Himachal ka rivazjaarihai – Congress phir se aa rahihai”, the Indian National Congress has proved the BJP’s alleged ‘double engine’ government in Himachal Pradesh to be a ‘trouble engine’ government. Congress fought a strong battle at every front. BJP tried a lot but Congress kept the election focussed on people’s issues and its united collective leadership foiled every propaganda of BJP.
On one hand was going on the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in the country under the leadership of Shri Rahul Gandhi and on the other hand elections in Himachal - the issues of both were same - rising inflation, rising unemployment, anarchy and fear. These issues were strengthened by ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in the elections and Himachal people/voters started making up their mind for change. Congress contested Himachal elections with 10 guarantees, which included issues like restoration of old pension scheme, five lakh jobs with one lakh government jobs, Rs. 1500 per month to women, 300 units of free electricity, fair price to apple growers.
As a media in-charge, it was my responsibility to take every guarantee given by the Congress to every house through the media.
With the help of central and local leaders and advance organizations in every Legislative Assembly of Himachal Pradesh, through about 160 press talks, the guarantee was taken to the public with answers to every question, which instilled confidence in the public and the public supported the Congress. The public made up its mind to have Congress win by voting for it, which later turned into victory.
Smt. Priyanka Gandhiji played an important role in the Himachal elections. Five huge meetings and the ‘response’ received from the people in those meetings was writing the story of victory in these elections. Smt. Priyanka Gandhi contested for the first time in Himachal elections and got endeared to its people.
In all these meetings, senior observer appointed by AICC in Himachal Pradesh and Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Bhupesh Baghel accompanied her. Although, Bhupesh Baghel ji addressed some rallies by himself. Apart from this, his role behind the scenes in the elections was remarkable too. The way his Chhattisgarh team handled the elections proved that winning equations can be made with the right strategy.
Himachal Pradesh Congress In-charge and Rajya Sabha MP Shri Rajeev Shukla led by Himachal Congress President Smt. Pratibha Virbhadra Singh, the then Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri, and Chairman of the Campaign Committee Shri Sukhvinder Singh Thakur (Sukhu) set a fine example of united collective leadership. Election was fought in a very disciplined manner uniting and coordinating with the booth level workers.
Congress’ newly elected President Mallikarjun Kharge Ji also boosted the morale of the workers by coming to the Himachal elections and the victory of Congress started under his leadership. This victory is the victory of efficient leadership of Congress over an incompetent BJP government. This is the victory of hardworking Congress workers in Himachal Pradesh, which will boost the spirits of Congress workers across the country.
Today, there is a Congress government in Himachal Pradesh. I congratulate and convey my best wishes to all the Congress workers and the government on this victory. May both live up to the expectations of the people of Himachal Pradesh.
The author is an Ex. MLA & AICC Delegate