BJP lost all five Assembly seats under Union Minister Anurag Thakur’s Lok Sabha constituency Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh, while it won all three seats from party president JP Nadda’s hometown Bilaspur.
The BJP fell short despite a resource-driven fight to buck the trend in the hill state. The BJP had been banking on the achievements of PM Modi for a smooth transition to a record second term in Himachal Pradesh, even though the state diligently swings between the BJP and the Congress every five years.
The BJP made a “double engine” pitch, implying that having the same party in power at the Centre and in the state guarantees development on all fronts. But the Congress insisted that local issues matter most. The negligible presence of Muslims and the absence of any single dominant political caste are factors responsible for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s defeat in the Himachal Pradesh assembly polls.
The winds of change started blowing several months ago, when the BJP lost the Mandi Lok Sabha and three assembly by-elections in November 2021. In one of the assembly seats, it was not even the runner up. The loss in Mandi came as a wake- up call, as in the 2019 parliamentary election the saffron party defeated the Congress by over four lakh votes. Incidentally, Mandi is the home turf of chief minister Jairam Thakur.
The promise of restarting the old pension scheme spurred the Congress campaign as a large chunk of the population is in government jobs. The BJP made a “double engine” pitch, implying that having the same party in power at the Centre and in the state guarantees development on all fronts.