After dethroning congress from Shimla MC after its 25 year long rule, the Himachal Pradesh state committee of the communist party of India said that they will work for progress of the Shimla MC and try to do so to the best of their ability.
In its press statement CPM said that people of Shimla created political history by electing CPI(M) candidates Sanjay Chauhan as Mayor and Tikender Panwar and Deputy Mayor. Out of total 79,970 votes 51,115 votes (64.84%) were polled. In most of the wards both the CPI(M) mayor and Deputy Mayor candidates polled more votes than the combined votes of both BJP and Congress. Sanjay Chauhan trounced the nearest rival, the BJP candidate, by a margin 7,868 votes. Out of 51,115 votes polled Sanjay Chauhan polled 21,903 votes (42.85%), against 14,035 votes (27.45%) polled Dr. S.S. Minhas of BJP and 13,278 (25.97%) votes by Madhu Sood of Congress.
The margin of votes is so huge that it counts for 16% of the votes polled. Madhu Sood was the incumbent Mayor of Shimla Municipal Corporation elected in 2007 via indirect mode. Tikender Panwar of CPI(M) polled 21000 (41.42%) against 16,418 (32.11%) polled by DigVijay Singh of BJP and 13,205 (25.83%) polled by Devinder Chauhan of Congress.
CMP is considering this election as a strong political message for Congress and BJP. The Shimla MC was led by Congress since 1986. All these years’ elections were held via indirect mode, whereas the ward councilors were elected and the councilors in turn voted the Mayor and deputy mayor. It is for the first time that direct elections were held for the post of Mayor and Deputy Mayor along with ward councilors since the inception of SMC in the nineteenth century. The CPI (M) campaigned against the policies formulated and implemented by the Congress-led Shimla MC. At the same time the thrust of the campaign was on the neo-liberal policies led by the both BJP-led State Government and Congress-led UPA -II at Centre. Focus of CPI (M) campaign was that since the SMC was led by the Congress all the time and this party should own the major responsibility for the state of affairs of infrastructure and services provided by the SMC. On the other hand BJP was in power for three terms since the first SMC election and it never supported the SMC and rather under the present Dhumal Government it did its best to paralyze the SMC by withholding funds and forcing privatization of public services. The apathy of both these parties to the developmental needs of Shimla is akin to their proximity on the ideological position on the far wider and bigger issue of neo-liberalization and issues affecting mass of people. Both these parties support the policies that led to the spiralling price rise, fast increasing unemployment, poor infrastructure, unbridled corruption and privatization of health, education, water services and shrinking social security. Neo-liberal policies have adversely affected the access of common people to education and health services.
Further, Shimla City has pan-Indian character and has become ‘mini India’. It is the engine of socio-economic transformation of Himachal Pradesh. However, over the years tremendous pressure, on many counts, has been put on the city’s resources and existing infrastructure. Both State and the Central Governments being stakeholders in the developments of Shimla are solely responsible for the state of affairs of developmental activities, the public utilities and services in Shimla. CPI (M) campaigned that the Shimla MC will be made people-friendly an public services will be delivered in defined time frame. Further funds for the developments will be sought from the main stakeholders and the people of Shimla will not be burdened for resources mobilization.
These elections have a strong political message. The Congress and BJP were badly routed in these elections. That is big message. If people have a credible political alternative before them, both BJP and Congress can be defeated and politically isolated. And that is message of these elections. Further, the democratic processes and institutions are under constant threat from both from Congress and BJP. It was vividly clear from these elections as Chief Minister Dhumal and his team of ministers accompanied by BJP MLAs and MPs put in all their efforts to intimidate the voters and violated the model code of conduct on many counts. The saffron brigade made all efforts to lure the voters by offering money and liquor.
CPM said that the party’s victory is a reflection of the electorate’s growing maturity. The elections results will have serious ramifications on the State Assembly elections, just a few months away. The SMC has historical links. Apart from being a popular international tourist destination, Shimla was also the British Summer Capital and many other activities of the British Empire were run from here. In the recent history of India, apart from the Left Parties bastions in East and South India, no Municipal Corporation were won by the left party ever before.