Clean sweep by Congress in Himachal Pradesh bypolls; Pratibha Singh elected as MP from CM’s home turf Mandi

The Congress also registered wins in all three Vidhan Sabha by-elections held for Jubbal-Kotkhai, Arki and Fatehpur Assembly constituencies

Congress Flag
Congress Flag

Bipin Bhardwaj

The BJP-led Himachal Pradesh government has received a major setback with the Congress making a clean sweep in the by-polls held in the state. The Congress not only won the Mandi Lok Sabha constituency but also registered wins in all three Vidhan Sabha by-elections held for Jubbal-Kotkhai, Arki and Fatehpur Assembly constituencies.

With such a strong show by the Congress, alarm bells have started ringing for the BJP government in the hill state led by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, especially as he had been camping in his home turf Mandi to campaign for the party’s candidate.

Thakur, however, accepted the mandate. He tweeted: “I accept the results and congratulate the winners. The BJP fought hard, but the results are not in keeping with our expectations. We will definitely study the lessons learned in these bypolls and learn for the future... for the 2022 election."

As per reports, the Congress defeated the BJP by a thin margin of 8,766 votes in the Mandi parliamentary constituency. Congress candidate Pratibha Singh, widow of six-time HP Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh,

who passed away in July this year, defeated BJP’s candidate Brig Khushal Thakur (retd), a Kargil war hero.

The Mandi by-poll was necessitated due to the demise of sitting BJP MP Ram Swaroop in February this year.

Virbhadra Singh’s death had led to a by-poll at the Arki Vidhan Sabha seat, which the Congress has retained.

The outcome of the by-polls is being considered as a precursor to the 2022 Assembly elections. It is a clear indication that the BJP government is losing its grip at the root levels.

The Jai Ram Thakur government has been accused of failing to resolve issues like price rise, unemployment and local development during its tenure, feel political analysts, which tilted the table in favour of the Congress.

Congress candidate Sanjay Awasthy won the Arki (Solan) Assembly by-poll by 3,277 votes. He secured 30,493 votes against BJP candidate's Rattan Pal 27,216 votes.

In Fatehpur (Kangra), Congress candidate Bhawani Singh Pathania defeated his nearest rival Baldev Thakur of BJP by 5,652 votes. Pathania got 23,932 votes, while Thakur got 18,280 votes, with Rajan Sushant, an independent candidate, managing to get 12,679 votes.

The constituency went to bypolls due to the demise of Pathania’s father Bhawani Singh Pathania, a former minister in the state.

Congress' Rohit Thakur registered his victory at Jubbal-Kotkhai seat. BJP candidate Neelam Seraik remained on the third position with

Chetan Singh Bragta, an independent candidate, being the first runner up.

The by-poll for this seat was necessitated due to the demise of sitting BJP MLA Narinder Bragta in June this year.

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Published: 02 Nov 2021, 4:40 PM