Himachal BJP members ‘Mat’ on ‘Ummidwars’ to help finalize names on Monday

It promises to be the most exciting election battle in the hills in recent times. With multiple rallies by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP has taken off. Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP started strong but has recently shifted much of its focus to Gujarat. The Congress campaign rests on the shoulders of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra but has not yet accelerated. News18 travels the state to gauge public sentiment and political strategies ahead of the 2022 Himachal Pradesh elections.

With elections announced in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, heads of state from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are expected to arrive in the nation’s capital on Sunday evening.

Sources said this is the first state central committee meeting scheduled out of state. Monday’s meeting will be followed by the meeting of the central electoral commission to approve the names of candidates for the next elections.

However, the first ones do not stop there.

On Sunday, the party asked its office holders of all ranks to vote in favor of the candidates they deemed fit to compete.

THE FIRST ONES

“This is the first time that such a vote has taken place. A few people even gave five names. We are a setup that would want everyone to believe that their suggestion for the nominee was solicited and that it matters,” a senior party official said.

The party office in Shimla’s Chakkar was abuzz with state office holders voting, noting three names in order of preference from their respective seats.

READ ALSO | Polling station at 15,000ft 14km ride to stand: Election still a daunting task in Himachal

The party has already tackled the toughest task – shortlisting a candidate in each of the assembly’s 68 constituencies and containing the damage from infighting or ticket denial for some.

A list of names that have come forward will be matched with party polls to be considered for the final selection of candidates.

THE MOOD

All senior party officials were present at the party headquarters, with state chairman Suresh Kashyap overseeing the tasks assigned to various committees, including election campaign, manifesto and social media.

Relatively young workers and volunteers could be seen comparing notes and statistics and coordinating with other state office holders in Uttarakhand to see what they did and to personalize and imitate the strategy of return.

Kashyap appealed to the incumbents to give their recommendations to the candidates.

READ ALSO | Himachal voters decided to repeat BJP government as in UP, Uttarakhand, says PM Modi

“The elections have been declared and we will soon go to the elections. Our candidates will be declared soon. The BJP is a democratic party based on organization – all office holders of the party, whether that of mandal, state unit, morchas or district officials and our elected representatives of local bodies and companies. We organized a meeting of four parliamentary constituencies – Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi and Shimla – and sought advice from our workers. These office holders will exercise their secret ballot and be part of the process,” Kashyap said.

The boxes “Mera Mat, Mera Ummidwar” (My vote, my candidate) written on it were placed in the party office for everyone to defend their candidate.

The election management committee also had a meeting with the lawyers. The party will have one in each district to file objections or appeal to the election commission and extend legal aid to candidates and workers.

BEAT THE ANTI-COMBENCE

Senior party leaders believe that with Himachal having a history of changing governments every five years, this election is no picnic. Congress, the main opposition, is fighting a hard fight. “Although we usually change 25% of incumbent MPs to beat anti-tenure, it is not yet clear how many can be changed this time around. The Delhi meeting will finalize the criteria based on our surveys. We have to change some of them and the anti-incumbency that was seen earlier is missing this time,” a senior party official said.

READ ALSO | Over 55 Lakh voters eligible to cast their ballot for 68 Assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh 2022 polls

Another senior party unity official, while accepting greetings from likely contenders for the tickets, said: ‘Congress has not gone below 38% at its lowest and not above 41 % when he won the elections. He commands so many voices. We are fighting to make a dent in that share of voice to win elections. The BJP also got 48% of the vote in previous polls,” a senior official added.

Cautious after Prem Kumar Dhumal lost the last election despite the party’s victory, CM Thakur visited his constituency and had a meeting with the “rebel workers” to appease them, sources said.

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Carol N. Valencia