New Delhi, June 1
With just a year left until the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, internal BJP surveys have indicated that the party is on a weak wicket in three out of four parliamentary constituencies in Himachal Pradesh and urgent course correction is needed to recover lost ground.
The Tribune has learnt that Shimla and Kangra Lok Sabha seats are likely to be added to the list of 160 weak parliamentary segments the BJP has identified nationally for heightened focus ahead of the next general election.
Number up after changes in bihar, maha
- The BJP has identified 160 weak parliamentary segments for heightened focus ahead of the next General Election
- The initial list had 144 seats; it was expanded to 160 after alliance equations changed in Bihar and Maharashtra
Mandi was included in this list in 2021 after Congress’ Pratibha Singh wrested it from the BJP.
These 160 seats are the ones the BJP had either lost in 2019 Lok Sabha elections or barely won. In all the BJP had won 303 seats out of 437 it contested in the 2019 LS polls.
The initial BJP list had 144 vulnerable seats. These were expanded to 160 after alliance equations changed in Bihar and Maharashtra. The dynamic list keeps changing depending on BJP’s internal assessments aimed at real time data.
The status of Himachal Pradesh LS segments is learnt to have come up for discussions at a recent meeting BJP chief JP Nadda and party general secretary organization BL Santosh held with state leaders including Himachal unit president Rajeev Bindal, state in charge Avinash Rai Khanna, leader of opposition Jairam Thakur, among others — to discuss the party’s month-long outreach on nine years of government.
It is learnt that out of 51 mega rallies planned during the campaign, four will be held in Himachal — one in each LS segment.
Sources said BJP’s hold over Shimla parliamentary seat has consistently loosened with the party winning only three of the segment’s 17 assembly seats in 2022 state polls.
Out of the 25 seats the BJP won in Himachal elections last year, three were in Shimla, four in Hamirpur, six in Kangra and 12 in Mandi. Each LS seat has nearly 17 assembly segments.
It has become tougher after the BJP’s recent loss in Shimla Municipal Corporation elections where the Congress bagged 51.77 % of the votes cast.
“We could only win nine out of 34 wards in Shimla MC. Another challenge is that the Congress has represented several leaders from Shimla LS segment in the state cabinet,” BJP sources said, listing factors that have made the seat challenging.
Among ministers from Shimla parliamentary segment Dhani Ram Shandil, Harshwardhan Chauhan, Vikramaditya Singh, Anirudh Singh and Rohit Thakur. Two chief parliamentary secretaries ML Brakta and Sanjay Awasthy are from Shimla LS segment; Congress Himachal media chief Naresh Chauhan (with cabinet rank) is also from Shimla parliamentary constituency so are two OSDs to the CM — Gopal Sharma and Ritesh Keprate.
“In a sense, the current Himachal government has heavy representation from the Shimla Lok Sabha seat, raising the stakes for the BJP,” BJP sources said.
“In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, we led in all 68 segments in Himachal. Currently we are on tough turf but we will regain lost ground. The ongoing month-long campaign will see door to door outreach. We had lost Gagret assembly seat to the Congress but have just won a Zila Parishad election there indicating that reversal of electoral fortunes is possible,” a BJP leader said.