Shimla: In recently concluded Himachal Elections 2017 all hopes of Veteran Congress leader Virbhadra Singh to lead the state one more time dashed as party could manage only 21 seats in the election. Singh, who had vacated his Shimla Rural seat for his son Vikramaditya Singh and shifted to Arki assembly segment, made to the Vidhan Sabha comfortably, but most of his cabinet colleagues failed to retain their seats.
Amidst the tussle with the party high-command Virbhadra Singh (83), was named Chief Ministerial candidate by the Congress and to ensure party victory Singh toiled hard in the state and even campaigned for party nominees tirelessly across the state. However, his all efforts goes in vain.
At 83 Singh gone hard, indeed, harder than youngsters. The octogenarian had tough schedule and he almost covered three districts and used to attend eight to ten poll meetings on a single day. He covered almost 45 assembly constituencies battling with his opponents and age every day. Virbhadra Singh was simply unstoppable during the campaign and faced all tirades and barrage of allegations from opposition alone, and even responded befittingly. Even after ED and IT department sealed his bank accounts, Singh had put his all might to ensure the party wins.
Singh was vertualy left alone and put on test by the party high command. Most of the state leaders were confined to their segment only and most of Congress’s national leaders were clueless about the state, issues and political knowhow of the state. However, even then Virbhadra Singh had not left any stone unturned in the Himachal elections 2017.
When Virbhadra Singh was campaigning incessantly across the state, other leaders (even those who were dreaming for the top post in the government) were restricted to their own constituency only. Despite that only Sujan Singh Pathania, Col Dhani Ram Shandil and Mukesh Agnihotri could win their seats. Even leaders who were given political appointments despite losing election in 2012 again failed to impress the electorates. From Shri Naina Devi constituency Ram Lal Thakur and senior leader Harshvardhan Singh Chauhan managed to regain seats from the BJP candidates. However, Dr. Subhash Manglate, Kuldeep Singh Pathania, Gangu Ram Musafir, Vinod Sultanpuri, Surinder Bhardwaj, Chander Shekhar, who had lost election in 2012 were again tested in the Himachal Elections 2017, and again failed to even come closer in the election thus impacted faint chance of the party to retain power in the state.
If we analyze district wise Congress failed to impress electorates in Kangra, Mandi, Sirmour, Una, Chamba, Kullu, Bilaspur district and also lost seats in its strong bastion Shimla district. Party, though, increase its tally in Solan and Sirmour district, but losing of its prominent leaders viz. Kaul Singh Thakur, GS Bali, Thakur Singh Bharmouri, Prakash Chaudhary, Sudhir Sharma forcing party to introspect.
Congress candidates also fared poorly in constituencies like Kutlehar, Hamirpur, Jogindernagar, Jaswan-Pragpur, Dehra, Jhanduta and if party serious about its future it would need to return to board to chalk out strategy to woo voters.
Congress decimated in its own turf
Shimla district is considered as strong bastion of the Congress party. In most of assembly election, Congress party had received overwhelming support from the electorates. However, in Himachal Elections 2017, party lost three seats to BJP and one for CPM. Congress even decimated in Shimla Urban and Theog Assembly constituencies, where its candidate even lost their security deposit. In Shimla Urban party official candidate comes humiliating fourth and in Theog, where party high-command had imposed its candidate by overshadowing state leaders’ choice, gifted an important seat to lessor known CPM in the state. At Shimla Urban seat Congress rebel Harish Janartha was proved second best candidate and official Congress candidate exposed to certain extend a spoiler for the party chance at this prestigious constituency.
Mandi district rejects Congress
Mandi district has produced many noted Congress leaders. Every state government has ensured representation from Mandi district and in the Virbhadra Singh latest tenure three cabinet ministers, two CPS and few leaders were adjusted in the government by appointing in the Boards and Corporations. Despite all this Congress in Himachal Elections 2017, failed to win even a single seat. Though, one minister Anil Sharma has made to the Vidhan Sabha, but from BJP as just before the election Sharma, son of Veteran Congress leader and Union Minister in Narasimha Rao Govt, switched over to the BJP and other ministers Kaul Singh Thakur and Prakash Chaudhary were rejected by the electorates.
Electorates in politically important Kangra District also deviated from the Congress and out of 15 assembly seats Congress could register its supremacy in three seats only. However, in Himachal Elections 2017, noted BJP leader also Ravinder Ravi lost election from Dehra segment to politically novice Hoshiyar Singh, and even Prime Minister’s magic faded to woo electorates in favor of Indu Goswami and Kirpal Singh Parmar.
Congress had sought votes on development, but BJP campaign targeting Congress over corruption and law and order situation in the state overshadowed the Congress every effort to retain power in the state. During its latest tenure Virbhadra Government was named as Government of Tired, Retired and Rejected. The Govt. given reckless service extension and handpicked retired employees and given them plum postings. Seniority were also ignored for top bureaucratic posts and failing to solve the Forest guard Hoshiyar Singh Murder and Kotkhai Rape and Murder case proved too costly for the Congress to retain power in the state.