Pollsters have predicted a neck and neck fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress in Himachal Pradesh. Exit polls gave 32-40 seats for BJP with a vote share of around 45 per cent and 25-40 seats for the Congress with a 43 per cent vote share. The magic figure to claim victory in the 68-member Himachal Pradesh assembly and form government is 35.
Clearly, the trends show that Himachal Pradesh can be anybody’s game. While the BJP is hopeful of returning to power, the Congress hopes that voters will not defy the trend of the state bringing alternate governments to power in the hill-state. A clear answer is expected no sooner than December 8, the day when the counting of votes will be taken up and results officially declared. Himachal Pradesh voted on November 12 in a single phase. The voter turnout was recorded at 74.5 percent.
Himachal Pradesh results: A timeline
Anti-incumbency has been one of the biggest factors on the voters’ minds while choosing a new government. No incumbent government has ever returned to power in the hill state ever since its formation, barring one exception in 1985.
The ‘Devbhoomi’ has been a swing state which has alternated between BJP and Congress for the past three decades.
In 1985, Virbhadra Singh was appointed as the Chief Minister when Congress registered a landslide victory, winning 58 seats in the 68-strong assembly while the BJP settled at seven.
In the 1990 elections, Congress failed to repeat its term, paving the way for the formation of a government of the BJP which had bagged 46 seats. However, two years later, President’s rule was imposed in Himachal Pradesh in the face of communal fissure triggered by the demolition of Babri Masajid.
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When elections were held in the 1993 assembly election, Congress returned to power. In 1998, BJP succeeded to form the government with the help of Himachal Vikas Congress when both the saffron party and the grand old party had managed to win 31 seats each.
In 2003, Congress was crowned to power, winning 43 seats while BJP succeeded to form its government in 2007 with 41 seats. Congress formed government again in 2012, bagging 36 seats while the BJP returned to power in 2017 with 44 MLAs. Clearly, the electoral ‘Rivaz’ shows that anti-incumbency clouds every chance of a party retaining power in the state.