Himachal Pradesh Elections: BJP bites into bitter apples, Congress bags victory

Political observers say that the anger of apple growers against the BJP government is one of the major reasons for its dismal performance in the polls

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NH Political Bureau

A steep rise in input costs and an increase in GST on packaging has cost the BJP dearly in the assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh. Taking advantage of this situation and translating anti-incumbency into votes, Congress has bagged 12 out of 17 seats in the apple-growing. As per the ECI data, Congress has seven out of eight seats in Shimla, two each (out of four) in Mandi and Kullu. Congress has also won the Kinnaur assembly seat.  

Political observers say that the anger of apple growers against the BJP government is one of the major reasons for its dismal performance in the polls. This is also a state that has not voted an incumbent government into power since 1985.  

“The BJP government made the mistake of taking apple growers lightly and paid the price,” said Harish Chauhan, Convener, Sanyukt Kisan Manch after the results were announced, alleging, “the BJP government did not pay heed to the plight of apple farmers, who were bearing the burden of increased costs.”  

According to an estimate, around 2 lakh households in Himachal Pradesh depend on apples for their livelihood. Economically, apple growers contribute around 13.5% of the state’s gross domestic product of around Rs 6,000 crore. Politically, they have a considerable influence in around 18-20 constituencies in the Shimla region, apart from Solan, Sirmour, and parts of the Kullu and Mandi districts.  

In 2017, when the BJP came to power, Congress had won only four seats in the Shimla district, whereas in 2012, it had won six. Observers say that Congress's promise to increase the income of apple growers by deciding the minimum support price (MSP) for each category of apple and promise to set up a horticulture commission with apple growers as its members worked in its favor.  

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