Himachal polls: Rebels played spoilsport in 12 out of 68 assembly seats

PTI, Dec 9, 2022, 12:35 PM IST

Shimla: Rebels played a spoilsport for both the BJP and Congress in 12 out of the 68 assembly segments in Himachal Pradesh.

The rebels, who contested as independents in the assembly polls, marred the prospects of BJP candidates in eight seats while Congress candidates were hit in four assembly segments.

Out of the total 99 independents who were in the fray, 28 were rebels. All the three winning Independents — K L Thakur from Nalagarh, Hoshiyar Singh from Dehra, and Ashish Sharma from Hamirpur — were BJP rebels who were denied party tickets.   Thakur had won in 2012 but lost in 2017 and the BJP chose to field Lakhwinder Singh Rana, a two-term Congress MLA, who jumped ship ahead of the elections.  Singh, sitting independent MLA from Dehra had joined the BJP on the eve of assembly elections but the party gave a ticket to Ramesh Dhawala while Ashish Sharma from Hamirpur was also a BJP rebel.

The rebels spoiled the prospects of the BJP in Kinnaur, Kullu, Banjar, Indora, and Dharamshala, while the chances of the Congress candidates were hampered in Pachhad, Chopal, Anni, and Sulah.

The total vote share of independents and other smaller parties was 10.39 percent.   In Kinnaur, former BJP MLA Tejwant Negi who contested as independent secured 19.25 percent votes (8,574) which were more than the winning margin (6,964) of the Congress candidate Jagat Singh Negi and became instrumental in the defeat of BJP official candidate Surat Negi.

BJP rebel Ram Singh polled 16.77 percent votes (11,937 votes), while the BJP candidate Narotam Singh conceded defeat to Congress candidate Surender Thakur by 4,103 votes.

The scenario was no different in Kullu where Hiteshwar Singh, son of BJP leader Maheshwar Singh got 24.12 percent vote (14,568) ensuring the defeat of BJP candidate Khimi Ram by 4,334 votes.

In Dharamshala, BJP rebel Vipan Neheria polled 12.36 percent vote (7,416) which was more than the winning margin (3,285) of Congress candidate Sudhir Sharma. The situation was no different in Sullah and Anni where the contest was between BJP and Congress rebels and the Congress official candidates stood third.

In Pachhad and Chopal, Congress rebels Gangu Ram Musafir and Subash Manglet secured 21.46 percent and 22.03 percent votes which was 2-3 times more than the winning margin of BJP candidates.

Though the independents were insignificant as Congress has got a clear mandate winning 40 out of 68 seats but in some elections in the past, Independents have played a significant role in the state, which has a record of alternating between the two main parties every assembly election.

In 1982, the Congress won 31 out of 68 seats in 1982 and formed the government with the help of independents. The BJP and Janata Party won 29 and two seats, respectively, and independents bagged six seats in that election.

BJP leader Shanta Kumar went to the Raj Bhavan to stake his claim to form the government after two Janata Party members assured their support. But both of them failed to turn up there. Instead, four independents extended support to Congress.

In 1998, the lone independent member Romesh Dhawala held the balance, supporting first the Congress and then the BJP-Haryana Vikas Congress alliance. Ultimately, a BJP-led government was sworn in.

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