Himachal bypoll battle to decide Sukhu government fate

Mandi: The bugle of assembly by-election has been sounded in Himachal Pradesh. The ruling Congress and the opposition BJP are eyeing the by-elections on nine seats. Voting on six of these seats is to be held on June 1. These seats have become vacant due to the disqualification of six Congress MLAs. These by-elections will decide whether Congress’ Sukhu government will remain in power in the state or BJP will form the government.

If we look at the assembly by-elections held in Himachal Pradesh in the last four decades, Congress has had the upper hand most of the times. Since 1984, assembly by-elections have been held on 22 seats in the state. Of these, Congress has won 12 times and BJP has won 10 times.

The last by-election was held two and a half years ago in the year 2021, when BJP was in power in the state. Then in the by-elections held on three seats, the ruling party BJP had to face a crushing defeat. Congress candidates were victorious in Arki, Fatehpur and Jubbal-Kotkhai assembly constituencies. Sanjay Awasthi from Arki, Bhavani Singh Pathania from Fatehpur and Rohit Thakur from Jubbal Kotkhai had reached the assembly. The interesting thing is that after this, these three MLAs won again in the assembly elections held in the year 2022. Rohit Thakur is the education minister and Sanjay Awasthi is the chief parliamentary secretary in the Sukhu government, while Bhawani Singh Pathania has got a cabinet rank position.

Four decades ago, in 1984, by-elections were held on Paragpur seat in Kangra district and Dharampur seat in Mandi district. Congress had hoisted the flag on both the seats. Yograj of Congress became MLA in Paragpur, while Natha Singh of Congress reached the assembly by winning the by-election from Dharampur. After this, in 1994, Anita Verma of Congress won the Hamirpur seat, which was vacant due to the death of senior BJP leader and founding member of Jan Sangh, Thakur Jagdev Chand.

What was the situation during 1995

In the year 1995, due to the death of Man Chand Rana, Kanwar Durga Chand of Congress was elected from Sulh seat in the by-election. This year, by-elections were held after the death of Kinnaur Congress MLA Devraj Negi. Congress gave ticket to Jagat Singh Negi and he became MLA for the first time. Jagat Singh Negi is the Horticulture Minister in the current Sukhu government. In the year 1996, Adarsh Kumar Sood of Congress from Shimla city and Ranjit Bakshi of Congress from Noorpur became MLAs by winning the by-elections.

BJP’s Virendra Kumar, who won from Paragpur in the 1998 assembly elections, died on the day of the results. At that time, BJP’s Dhumal government was formed and BJP gave ticket to Nirmala Devi, wife of late Virendra Kumar and she reached the assembly after winning the by-election. In the same year, Dulo Ram of BJP was elected from Baijnath, the seat vacant due to the death of veteran Congress leader Sant Ram.

In the year 2000, BJP’s Rajeev Bindal had won the by-election held in Solan. Presently Rajiv Bindal is the President of State BJP. In the year 2004, Harbans Rana of BJP became MLA by defeating Neeraj Bharti of Congress in the by-election held on Guler seat. In 2009, during BJP’s Dhumal government, Khushi Ram Balnahta of BJP from Rohru and Sujan Singh Pathania of Congress from Jwali became MLAs by winning the by-election. After the death of Hari Narayan Saini in 2011, Lakhwinder Rana of Congress became MLA from Nalagarh for the first time. In the same year, BJP’s Hriday Ram also won the by-election on Renuka seat, which was vacant due to the death of Prem Singh.

In 2014, during the tenure of Congress’s Virbhadra government, BJP’s Narendra Thakur became MLA by winning the by-election from Sujanpur seat. After this, by-elections were held for the assembly in Bhoranj in 2017. In the by-election held after the death of senior BJP leader Ishwar Das Dhiman, his son Anil Dhiman won. He had defeated Congress’s Promila. In the year 2020, by-elections were held on Dharamshala and Pachhad seats during the tenure of BJP’s Jairam Thakur government. These seats became vacant after Kishan Kapoor and Suresh Kashyap won the Lok Sabha elections. BJP captured both the seats. Vishal Nehariya became MLA from Dharamshala and Reena Kashyap from Pachchad.

The last by-elections on Arki, Jubbal Kotkhai and Fatehpur seats were held in the year 2021 during the BJP rule. By-elections were held on these seats due to the demise of political veterans Virbhadra Singh, Narendra Bragta and Sujan Singh Pathania. Congress had won on all three seats.

Along with the elections for four Lok Sabha seats, by-elections for six assembly seats are also to be held in Himachal Pradesh on June 1. After the disqualification of six Congress MLAs, the Election Commission has announced by-elections in Sujanpur, Badsar. Kutlaihar, Dharamshala, Gagret and Lahaul-Spiti assembly constituencies. Apart from this, three independent MLAs have also left the membership of the Assembly and joined BJP. In such a situation, the Election Commission will also announce by-elections on Hamirpur, Dehra and Nalagarh seats. In this way, by-elections will be held on nine assembly seats in the state. This by-election will decide the future of the ruling Congress Sukhu government.

Earlier, Congress had 40 MLAs in the 68-member Himachal Assembly, out of which After the disqualification of six, now only 34 MLAs are left. Talking about BJP, 25 BJP MLAs had won the elections and they are getting the support of nine others. If by-elections are held on all nine seats and all of them go to BJP, then BJP will also have 34 MLAs, whereas if Congress wins one or two of these seats, then Congress will get a clear majority. However, if Congress loses all nine seats, the Sukhu government will be reduced to minority.


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