The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made a spectacular comback to power in Himachal Pradesh with a big majority and massive gain in vote share in the state.
The saffron party has won 44 out of 68 seats with 48.8% vote share in the hilly state.
So what are the big challenges that the new BJP government will have to face in the state?
Everybody who knows Himachal well would agree that it’s going to be a crown of thrones for whoever takes the baton from the outgoing Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.
Here are the five big challenges that the new BJP government will face in the state:
1. Electing new Chief Minister: The BJP won the war in Himachal but it has lost many of its generals including its CM candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal who lost to his one-time disciple Rajinder Rana from Sujanpur constituency. The state BJP President Satpal Singh Satti has also elections from Una constituency.
Among other top BJP leaders who lost are former minister Ravinder Singh Ravi from Dehra, former minister Gulab Singh Thakur, who is also father-in-law of Hamirpur BJP MP Anurag Thakur) from Jogindernagar, Indu Goswami from Palampur and Randhir Sharma from Naina Devi.
Therefore, the first big challenge for the BJP will be chose the new Chief Minister which is not an easy task given the fact that the entire top leadership of the state unit has lost the elections.
2. Employment: Employment was a big issue in these elections and both the BJP and the Congress had promised to create more avenues of employment for the youths of the state. The BJP will have to fulfil its promise of generating employment by harnessing tourism potential and developing new tourist circuits in the state. The youths of the state will also expect the party to implement its promise of abolishing interviews for class III and Class IV jobs.
3. Law and order: A recent survey conducted by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) revealed that law and order including women safety has become a major issue of concern for the people of state especially after the horrible Gudia gang-rape case.
The people of the state will expect the BJP to execute its promise of providing a 24-hour helpline in the chief minister's office for reporting all types of crimes, setting up of Somnath Vahini, a task force of ex-servicemen to take on drug mafia and crime.
4. Corruption: Tackling corruption will be a major challenge for the new government in the state. The BJP had made corruption a big issue in the run up to the elections and targeted Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh over the ongoing ED probe against him. However, tackling corruption at the lower level will be a bigger challenge for the new government as it directly affects the common man.
5. Healthcare for women: According to a report, 65% of the functioning primary healthcare centres in the state do not have a labour room. Not only that, there is a shortfall of around 98% specialists in the Community Health Centres. The new government will have to tackle these challenges on priority in the state.
6. Poor implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission targets in urban areas: Despite being India’s second state to achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) status under Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Grameen, Himachal Pradesh has a very poor record under SBS in urban areas. Out of a target of 12,560 individual house toilets and 876 community and public toilets in urban areas, the state has completed only 8% and 4% of the constructions respectively
Major challenges for Congress after massive defeat
The ruling Congress was pummelled by the BJP in Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. The party could manage to win only 21 seats in 68-member House.
Every defeat calls for an honest introspection on part of the losing side and the Congress too will have to analyse what were the fault lines that led to the massive drubbing in these elections
Here are a few major challenges that the Congress will face in the state after being trounced by the BJP in the state:
1. Leadership tussle: The defeat of Congress is likely to trigger a leadership tussle in the Congress. Till now, six-term Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh was the unchallenged leader of the party in the state. However, given the fact that he is now in 84th year of his life, the party will have to start searching for a successor who could lead the party in 2022.
However, the task is not easy for the party because like the BJP, the top leadership of the Congress has also been defeated in these elections. Among the prominent Congress candidates who lost elections are Veteran leader and health minister Kaul Singh Thakur who lost from Darang, his daughter Champa Thakur, contesting for the first time from Mandi, lost to BJP's Anil Sharma, son of former Union minister Sukh Ram.
Not only that, Excise minister Prakash Chaudhary lost the election from Balh seat of Mandi, forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmauri lost from Bharmaur seat of Chamba district, urban development minister Sudhir Sharma lost from Dharamshala and transport minister G S Bali lost from Nagrota seat.
2. Keeping its flock together in Assembly: With the party looking to win only 20-something seats in the state, it will have to ensure that its leaders do not cross over sides to enjoy perks of power