This is the election year in the polity of Himachal Pradesh. This means the social fabric of the state will decide to elect which party’s government in the state during the assembly elections. If we look at the political scenario since 1985, electorate of Himachal Pradesh had been electing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (Congress) alternatively. In fact, generally it is presumed that the polity of this hill state changed after emergency when Janata Party formed the government under the leadership of Shanta Kumar in 1977. After that, 1982 it was a neck-n-neck fight between congress and the BJP when the former part won 31 seats and the later one 29 despite 7.5 per cent of difference of votes. Six independents won the elections. At that time, congress formed the government with the help of independents.
Almost, the same situation was repeated in 1998. However, there was an interim government of Virbhadra Singh as the leader of the largest party-INC- that won the election. After nearly a week, Virbhadra Singh government could not win vote of confidence in the Assembly and had to resign. This was the sort of exception for a week or so. However, the ultimate result did not affect the rotation of power between Congress and the BJP. This time, Himachal Vikas Party (HVP), formed by Pt. Sukh Ram, the former Union Minister of Telecommunication, supported BJP to form the alternative government led by Prem Kumar Dhumal, when Narender Modi was BJP observer of the party for the state.
People might have been eyeing at the third political force in the state but no serious effort was made in the state to sustain the third political party which could be so popular. Despite the strong network of the student, youth and the trade union wings of the left front in the state, the left parties with three exceptions, could not represent any seat in any election in the legislative assembly. The Lok Raj Party (LRP- 1972), Himachal Kranti Party (HKP-1993) and the HVP (1998) and the Himachal Lok-hit Party (HLP-2012) were formed in the state but could not retain their identity.
This year the elections for the legislative assembly are not different as there is no other strong alternative before the electorate, but for the choice between the ruling congress and the opposition BJP. The organisation of the congress is full of the leaders those are nominated by the party high command directly on the recommendation of the HPPCC chief or at the instance of the Chief Minister. Similarly, the BJP is more or less a nominated body having support of either the High Command leaders or the Leader of the Opposition. BJP will bank upon the popularity of Prem Kumar Dhumal, while congress has also no choice but to rely on Virbhadra Singh’s popular leadership.
The real situation is that but for the elected representatives of BJP and Congress, and some associate members, none other enjoys independent identity as the popular leader. And the sitting representatives have to appear in the test of popularity in their respective segments whose performance will be assessed the electorate as the representative.
The parameters of the people to assess the performance vary from place to place. However, the public behaviour, the readiness of the leader to listen to the grievances of public and promptness to make efforts and be always in active role in the society are the general indicators to get qualifying marks to be in the fray. However, the winning marks will be given to the leaders in comparison to the rival’s qualities and ability to win over the confidence of the majority. The performance of the ruling as well as opposition representatives will be evaluated with no time for preparation, as during the past over four years, what they have sown and nursed, they will reap the good or poor harvest.
Last time life saving efforts to regain popularity will not change the quantum of yield. And the society now expect the leaders to project their agenda for the ensuing ruling tenure to be framed with the team of positive and innovative advisors, not the band of sycophants, the greedy and the deceptive people.
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