Saffron party sweeps polls in Himachal, but its stalwarts lose

THE BJP has wrested power in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, winning 44 seats in the state Assembly, but it suffered major upsets as its chief ministerial candidate, Prem Kumar Dhumal, and state unit chief Satpal Singh Satti lost. T

Published: 19th December 2017 04:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th December 2017 08:51 AM   |  A+A-

BJP supporters celebrate party’s victory in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections in Shimla on Monday | PTI

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: THE BJP has wrested power in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, winning 44 seats in the state Assembly, but it suffered major upsets as its chief ministerial candidate, Prem Kumar Dhumal, and state unit chief Satpal Singh Satti lost. The Congress won 21 seats, independents two, and one seat went to the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The saffron surge was powered by public ire against the ruling Congress over charges of corruption and mafia rule. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate and the income tax department in cases of corruption and disproportionate assets.The saffron party increased its vote share to approximately 48.8 per cent. The ‘magic’ figure for achieving a majority in the 68-member assembly is 35.

It was mixed bag for the BJP, which won mainly in lower Himachal Pradesh. The party bagged nine out of 10 seats in Mandi, nine out of 15 seats in Kangra, four out of five seats in Chamba, and three out of four seats in Bilaspur. It won two out of five seats in Solan, five out of eight seats in Shimla, three out of five seats in Hamirpur, and three out of five seats in Una.

Six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh won from Arki by a margin of 6,024 votes, defeating first-timer Rattan Singh Pal of BJP, while his son Vikramaditya Singh, contesting for the first time, won from Shimla (Rural). However, five of the eight ministers in the fray lost.“I accept the victory of the BJP. The elections were conducted under my leadership and I accept our defeat. I take full responsibility for our performance,” the CM said.

Dhumal was expected to become the CM for the third time, but lost to Rajinder Rana of the Congress in Sujanpur by 1919 votes. Dhumal had swapped seats with BJP legislator Narendra Thakur, who won from Hamirpur, the party’s pocket borough. It is believed Dhumal lost because of the change of his constituency. Dhumal said the verdict was unexpected. “My loss is not of much importance. The fact is that the party has emerged victorious,” he said.

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