Himachal Pradesh polling strategy: Congress stays local; BJP rakes in national issues


Over the past three decades, the 68-member States Assembly has witnessed a bipolar competition between Congress and the BJP

Over the past three decades, the 68-member States Assembly has witnessed a bipolar competition between Congress and the BJP

As the election campaign climaxes ahead of the November 12 assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is talking up national issues. On the other hand, its main challenger, the Congress party, largely sticks to local issues and targets the “bad governance” of the incumbent BJP in the state.

Over the past three decades, the 68-member States Assembly has witnessed a bipolar competition between the Congress and the BJP. This time again, the stage is set for a fight between these traditional rivals, who deploy contrasting strategies in this hill state.

Three days before the polls, a battery of Congress and BJP leaders are busy campaigning frantically across the state to garner maximum support and edge out their rivals. The BJP has campaigned aggressively over the past few months and prominent leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and the party’s national chairman, JP Nadda, from Himachal Pradesh, spoke at several rallies. However, the campaign for Congress has so far been largely led by party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and state leadership including Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu and Pratibha Singh.

National versus local

In its campaign, the BJP boasted of the benefits of “dual engine” governments (with the same ruling party in the center and in the state), in addition to raking in national issues such as the repeal of the Article 370, the construction of the Ram Temple and India’s cross-border airstrike. A promise to implement the Uniform Civil Code also found pride of place in the BJP manifesto.

Congress, on the other hand, has been careful not to lose sight of the local state-level issues it is using to corner the BJP government, including rising unemployment, rising prices, poor governance administration, allegations of corruption against the backdrop of alleged irregularities. in police recruitment, teacher recruitment and in the purchase of PPE kits in the health department, the non-restoration of the old pension scheme for government employees and the problems of horticulturists and farmers. These are some of the issues around which the Congress party has woven its campaign and taken it to the ground, even if it has failed in large rallies compared to the aggressive campaign of the BJP.

Contrasting Country Styles

In fact, the two parties also mocked each other in their campaign styles. Congress has argued that the BJP is campaigning aggressively because it has felt defeat in the upcoming election, alleging that the ruling party’s heavy campaign spending is an attempt to woo voters now because it has no managed to deliver on its promises over the past five years. The BJP, however, pointed to the absence of Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi from the election campaign and called it evidence of their indifference towards Himachal Pradesh.

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