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History favours Congress in Himachal
November 24, 2007 11:50 IST
The tiny hill state of Himachal Pradesh, which acquired its present shape after merger of Punjab Hill areas on November 1, 1966, has remained a Congress bastion with the party winning all but three state assembly elections since 1967.
Like all other parts of the country, the people of the state overwhelmingly voted for the Congress till 1967, when the voter, for the first time, reflected its anti-Congress mood by reducing its vote percentage to 42.19 per cent.
Even though the party won 34 seats out of a total of 60 seats in the assembly, its performance was overshadowed by the independents, who won 16 seats and polled 38.10 per cent votes.
The Bhartiya Jan Sangh also made its debut in these elections in the state by winning seven seats, while the Communists Party of India and the Swatantra Party won two and one seat respectively.
The 1967 elections signaled the beginning of the end of the Congress monopoly with opposition governments being formed in several states, including Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
The voting trend indicated that Himachal also did not remain untouched by winds of change.
The Congress swept the assembly polls in 1972, held soon after the Indo-Pak war, and won 53 out of 68 seats, while the BJS got five seats, while seven seats were won by independents.
The CPM secured one seat, while the Lok Raj Party (a newly-formed regional outfit) won two seats. Even in this election, the Congress polled 48.64 per cent votes and the independents cornered 28.27 per cent followed by BJS, which cornered 7.75 per cent votes.
However, Janata party swept the 1977 polls, held after emergency, winning 53 seats, while the Congress was reduced to nine seats. As against 49.01 per cent votes polled by the Janata Party, the Congress secured only 27.74 per cent votes and the most interesting aspect of that election was that Janata Party candidates secured lead in those polling stations that were situated in the remote and backward areas.
The Congress was denied absolute majority in the 1982 assembly elections after it had formed a government in 1980 by engineering defections from the Janata Party. It won 31 only seats out of a total of 68 seats and formed the government with the help of independents, while the BJP and the Janata Party won 29 and two seats respectively.
The Congress polled 42.52 per cent votes, followed by 35.15 per cent votes for the BJP and 14.21 per cent for the independents. The 1984 Lok Sabha elections held under the shadow of sympathy wave generated by assassination of the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi [Images] saw total rout of the opposition.
Finding the time opportune for assembly elections, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh went in for mid term polls, which were held in March 1985. While the Congress romped home with 58 out of a total of 68 seats with a poll percentage of 55.45, the BJP could secure only seven seats and 30.60 per cent votes.
The March 1990 Assembly elections held after installation of Janta Dal Government at the Centre saw the return of the BJP, which won 57 seats in alliance with the Janta Dal.
The BJP won 46 seats on its own, followed by 11 by Janta Dal, while the Congress was relegated to the third position with nine seats. The BJP polled 41 per cent votes, while the Congress and the Janta Dal secured 37 per cent and 10 per cent votes respectively.
The dismissal of Shanta Kumar-led BJP government in the aftermath of Babri Mosque demolition in December 1992 forced mid-term elections in the state and the Congress won by a massive margin. While the Congress won 52 seats by polling 46.36 per cent votes, the BJP could secure only eight seats with a polling percentage of 36.16.
The winds of change again started blowing at the national level in 1998, but the BJP was a hopelessly divided house in the hill state. However, the Congress chief minister wrongly assessed the mood of the people and went in for simultaneous assembly polls, ten months before schedule.
The gamble boomeranged and the Congress, which won 31 seats, was ousted from power, while the BJP, which also won 31 seats, managed to form a coalition government with the support of Himachal Vikas Congress, with five seats. The Congress polled 43.51 per cent votes followed by 39.03 per cent votes by the BJP and 9.63 per cent votes by the HVC.
The Congress returned to power in the last assembly elections, winning 43 seats and polling 41 per cent votes, while the BJP, which polled 35.38 per cent votes, could win only 16 seats.
The polling for the second phase of elections for the remaining 65 assembly constituencies will be held on December 19, while elections for three tribal constituencies of Kinnuar, Lahaul Spiti and Bharmaur were held on November 14.