It promises to be the most exciting election campaign in the mountains in recent memory. With several rallies by PM Narendra Modi, the BJP has hit the ground running. Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP started off strong but has been heavily focused on Gujarat lately. The congressional campaign rests on the shoulders of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra but has yet to gain momentum. News18 is touring the state to assess public opinion and political strategies ahead of the 2022 Himachal Pradesh elections.
With the announcement of elections in the mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh, leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will arrive in the national capital on Sunday evening.
Sources said it was the first meeting of the state’s core committee scheduled to take place outside of the state. Monday’s meeting will be followed by the Central Elections Committee meeting to approve the names of candidates for the upcoming elections.
The firsts don’t end there, however.
On Sunday, the party asked its incumbents of all ranks to cast their ballots in favor of the candidates they felt fit to run.
“This is the first time such a vote has taken place. Some people even gave five names. We are an institution that wants everyone to believe that their proposal for the candidate has been sought and that it matters,” said a senior party leader.
The party office in Shimlas Chakkar was buzzing as the state posts cast their votes and wrote down three names in the order of their respective seats.
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The party has already taken on the most challenging task – shortlisting one candidate from each of 68 constituencies and stemming the damage from infighting or being denied the ticket for some.
A list of names received will be checked against party polls for consideration in final candidate selection.
At the party headquarters, all senior officials were present, with President Suresh Kashyap overseeing the tasks assigned to various committees, including the campaign, manifesto and social media.
Relatively young workers and volunteers could be seen comparing notes and statistics and coordinating with other Uttarakhand post holders to see what they were doing and to adjust and emulate the strategy for a comeback.
Kashyap appealed to the incumbents to submit their recommendations for the candidates.
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“The elections have been called and soon we will go to the polls. Our candidates will be announced soon. The BJP is a democratic party based on organization – all party post holders, be they Mandatal, State Unit, Morchas or District Officers and our elected representatives from local corporations and businesses. We organized a meeting of four parliamentary constituencies – Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi and Shimla – and asked our workers for advice. These incumbents will conduct their secret ballot and become part of the process,” Kashyap said.
The boxes reading “Mera Mat, Mera Ummidwar” (My vote, my candidate) were placed in the party office for everyone to promote their candidate.
The electoral board also met with supporters. The party will have one in each district to object or appeal to the Electoral Commission and provide legal assistance to candidates and workers.
Senior leaders of the party believe this election will be no picnic given that Himachal changes governments every five years. Congress, the main opposition, is engaged in an uphill battle. “While we generally change 25% of sitting MLAs to beat anti-incumbents, it’s not yet clear how many can be changed this time around. The Delhi meeting will finalize the criteria based on our surveys. We need to change a few, and the anti-incumbency seen before is missing this time,” said a senior party leader.
ALSO READ | Over 55 lakh voters eligible to exercise their right to vote for 68 assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh Polls 2022
Another senior leader of the party unit said, while accepting the salute of the likely ticket contenders: “Congress didn’t fall below 38% at its weakest position and didn’t fall above 41% when it won the election. It has so much vote share. We are fighting to reduce that share of the vote in order to win the elections. The BJP also had a 48% share of the vote in previous polls,” added a senior leader.
After Prem Kumar Dhumal lost the last election despite the party’s victory, CM Thakur was cautious and went to his constituency and had a meeting with the “rebellious workers” to calm them down, sources said.
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