Himachal’s Mandate 2017
Himachal This Week Team (cover story)
Himachali electorate have voted peacefully to elect the new government as polling concluded across the state on November 9 in a single phase. The polling percentage has increased from last elections as youths and women turned up in large numbers to cast their votes, notwithstanding the fact that India’s first voter Shyam Saran Negi too used his franchise for 29th time. He polled his vote in Kalpa of Kinnaur district. As this hilly state witnessed whirlwind campaigning in the run to state assembly elections, the voters, however, silence keeping both the main political parties guessing about their choice. It will only be known when elections results will be declared on December 18 along with Gujarat assembly elections. However, people in this hilly state will have to wait for thirty nine days for the results after polling. This has raised a debate as to why not elections in Himachal be also held in two phases; one for the tribal constituencies and second for rest of the segments.
Previous Assembly Elections
No Of Contestants In Fray
2003 2007 2012 2017
408 336 459 337
2003 2007 2012 2017
4101093 4604443 4608359 4905677
Party Wise Summary 2003 2007 2012
BJP 16 41 26
Indian National Congress 43 23 36
HVC 1 – –
LJNSP 1 – –
BSP – – 1
LMHP 1 – –
Himachal Lokhit Party – – 1
Independent 6 3 5
People turned up in large numbers to elect the new government as nearly 74% polling percentage was recorded for Himachal assembly elections. Though polling percentage was slow in the beginning but it picked up later on. So much was the enthusiasm among voters that long queues were witnessed in 435 poling booths after 5 p.m. There were also reports of problem in EVM and VVPAT machines at places but necessary arrangements were put in place to ensure smooth polling.
Acid Test For Virbhadra, Dhumal
The discussion about possible outcome of Himachal assembly elections will continue till December 18 when results will be announced. The results will also reveal about the claims made by Congress leader Virbhadra Singh and BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has claimed that Congress will spring a surprise in Himachal this time, indicating towards writing a new history.
Claims, Counter Claims By Parties
Both the main political parties, the Congress and BJP, are confidant of forming the next government in this hilly state after the results are declared on December 18 next month. As Himachal results will also be announced along with Gujarat assembly elections, these will reflect mood of people for 2019 Lok Sabha polls, political observers feel. The BJP undertook an extensive campaigning that was well managed. The Congress campaign revolved around Virbhadra Singh. The Congress focused on GST, demonetisation and issues concerning ex-servicemen. Only results will reveal what impact these issues had on Himachali voters.
* The Congress will again form the government with absolute majority. Voters will endorse the development work undertaken by the Congress government
-Virbhadra Singh, Congress’s CM Candidate
* People of Himachal have voted for a change as they were waiting for the polling day. The BJP would form the next government with majority next month
-Prem Kumar Dhumal, BJP’s CM Candidate
India’s First Voter
Independent India’s first voter, 101 years old Shyam Saran Negi cast his vote at Kalpa in Kinnaur district. Its 29th time that he has used his franchise.
Awareness among voters
Himachali electorate have once again redefined established democratic norms by voting peacefully. Brisk voting also reflected towards the level of awareness among voters of this hilly state as there was no law and order problem anywhere across the state. It was like a festival when India’s first voter Shyam Sharan Negi went to cast his franchise. Elections in Himachal have always been like a festival in which people come out openly in support of their candidates and issues. As a result, the governments have been changing with people hoping for a better future. It is also an opportunity for youths to come out of quandary. Whether there will be a change or not this time or meanings of change will alter? This will be analysed after December 18 but electorate have started reading personalities to elect their representatives. Candidates found it difficult till polling day as they had to answer many questions raised by voters. Youth were found anxiously discussing changed model of development for employment opportunities and women were focused on price rise and hike in prices of LPG cylinder. Poll prospects can surprise all if polling was not done on caste, community and region basis. The leaders should understand that Himachali voters are no more at receiving end but they are more alert now. Youths serving outside Himachal were seen voting in their constituencies for state’s rights. All models of development are changing in the backdrop of young Himachali electorate. Permutations of main political parties will also change if one looks at the meaning of change by youths. This section is exploring future by using their voting right in elections. Women turning in large numbers to vote reflect towards many things. Poling itself was a big wave in the absence of any clear wave as nearly seventy five percent electorate used their right for strengthening democracy. This voting was done with a hope that next government works for the welfare and development of the state. It was not done for making groups in next Vidhan Sabha session to disrupt proceedings. This is an effort by voters to fulfill Himachal’s aspirations and move forward on the path of development. Ironically, the ruling and opposition parties remained busy in hurling allegations and counter allegations at each other. As a result, precious time was lost in every walkout from the house. Every vote cast is for maintaining dignity and honour of the state as much character assassination has been done during election.