The Congress also retained Fatehpur and Arki Assembly seats and Mandi Parliamentary seat.
The ruling BJP has suffered a major setback in the recently concluded bypolls, losing all four seats where ele tions were held on October 30. The by-elections were held for three assembly constituencies – Jubbal-Kotkhai, Fatehpur, Arki and one Lok Sabha constituency – Mandi. The opposition Congress swept the polls bagging all the seats, in a wake-up call for the ruling party in Himachal Pradesh ahead of the polls scheduled in the state next year.
Riding on the issues of inflation, COVID-19 mismanagement and development, the Congress has managed to set the stage wide open for the assembly elections 2022. The BJP’s candidate selection cost its candidate her deposit in the Jubbal-Kotkhai assembly constituency as she could only get 2,644 votes. The seat was earlier held by late BJP leader Narinder Singh Bragta who died in June due to the COVID-19. His son Chetan Singh Bragta was vying for a ticket from the BJP, but the saffron party chose to field Neelam Seraik instead. Chetan Singh then filed his nomination as an independent candidate and stood second with 23,662 votes, behind the Congress candidate Rohit Thakur who polled 29,955 votes. The division of votes, thus, sunk the BJP.
The Congress also retained Fatehpur and Arki Assembly seats and Mandi Parliamentary seat. Former chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh wrested the Mandi seat from the BJP. Notably, the Lok Sabha seat falls in CM Thakur’s home district. Pratibha Singh defeated BJP’s Khushal Thakur, a Kargil war hero, by a margin of 7,490 votes. Pratibha Singh got 3,69,565 votes against 3,62,075 secured by the BJP candidate.
Congress candidates Bhawani Singh Pathania got 24,449 votes to beat BJP’s Baldev Thakur (18,660) by a margin of 5,789 votes. Former state minister Dr Rajan Sushant got 12,927 votes as an independent candidate. In Arki, Congress candidate Sanjay received 30,798, enough to win the seat by a margin of 3,219 votes, defeating BJP’s Rattan Singh Pal (27,579).
CM Jairam Thakur alleged that some BJP workers acted against the party candidates and added that the party will formulate a strategy to overcome its shortcomings to ensure victory in the 2022 Assembly elections.